The AP Doesn’t Understand This “Reburial” Concept….

Over the weekend, Canon Copernicus’ recently rediscovered remains (found in their honorable, but as usual for people not paying for conspicuousness, unmarked grave under the floor of the cathedral where he served) were moved to a new tomb in the cathedral, as is suitable to his posthumous fame. The AP freaks out.

Putting a book on the Index was not the same as declaring it heretical. It was a sort of product safety label, telling people not to trust the book without any reservations. Serious students could read them, although in religious orders, they had to get permission from superiors. (But then, in religious orders, you sign up for that obedience stuff.) Books got put on the Index for various reasons, mostly moral and not doctrinal. It didn’t happen to every book with objectionable features; it was about a book being influential but misleading.

In the case of Copernicus’ book, apparently several decades after his death it was put on the Index temporarily, until various religious statements made in the book could be “corrected”. (This being the Vatican, this took several centuries.) The information in the book was not itself forbidden, and by that time there were many other physics books passing the info along about Copernican heliocentrism.

So no, Copernicus wasn’t in an unmarked grave of disgrace and horror. If they’d thought he was a heretic, they wouldn’t have buried him in consecrated ground, much less in the beating heart of the diocese. They just buried him like any normal canon of the cathedral, as was apparently his wish; and now they’ve reburied him like a famous man of achievement, which is what posterity has decided is fitting and he doesn’t get to argue with. ๐Ÿ™‚


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5 responses to “The AP Doesn’t Understand This “Reburial” Concept….

  1. Steven P. Cornett

    They don’t even understand the concept of church canon. A canon is a priest associated with a religious order, adhering to the vows of the order.

    What? They can’t even read WIkipedia?

  2. I’m sorry, I’m just not reading that article the same way. I don’t see any freaking out going on here — it all looks pretty balanced to me. Nowhere do they say that he was buried in a place of ‘disgrace’ or ‘dishonor’ but that he was buried as a churchman — and I quote the linked article:

    “Copernicus’ burial in an anonymous grave in the 16th century was not linked to suspicions of heresy. … Why was he just buried along with everyone else, like every other canon in Frombork? Because at the time of his death he was just any other canon in Frombork. He was not the iconic hero that he has become.”

    Ironically, Kopernik’s system had the same epicycles that the Ptolemaic system did, and wasn’t much of an improvement — and in many ways, gave even worse predictions of planetary movement. Kepler was the one who did the heavy lifting.

    • Steven P. Cornett

      Re: Rev Forrester,

      You are quite correct. Had he been condemned as a heretic he couldn’t be buried in consecrated ground, much less the Cathedral where was buried.

      They did, however, try to nurse their “science vrs. faith” narrative in the story.

      And kudos for noting Kepler’s heavy lifting; he is truly one of the giants whose shoulders Newton stood upon in making his system of physics. This, of course, means the the solar system isn’t “heliocentric” but heliolocused, as all orbits are elliptical and the sun is at the locus of the orbit.

      There were also other substantial objections from a natural philosophical standpoint, some of which were not resolved for centuries thereafter. One of the strongest, the lack of stellar parallax, was not resolved until observations with the interferometer in the 19th century.

      • I read a lot more of ‘science and faith coexisting’ in this article than I did of ‘science vs. faith’. They noted that the drive to locate Kopernik’s remains was spearheaded by the local bishop, referenced John Paul II’s rehabilitation of Galileo, and that De revolutionibus hasn’t been on the banned list in 175 years — ironically, removed only three years before stellar parallax (and thereby the Keplerian model) was finally demonstrated.

        Thus, I can’t read this article as being about ‘science vs. faith’. A lot more time was spent in this article on how the Church and science coexist now than on the controversy then — which in any case was between the Church and Galileo over heliocentrism, not between the Church and Kopernik himself.

  3. Maureen

    In the cold light of the next day, it’s a better article than it could have been. But I guess I’m naturally easy to annoy about some things… especially topics related to long Usenet flamewars of the past.

    And that was in groups like alt.mythology, where people were sweet, gentle, and nice…. ๐Ÿ™‚

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