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Copernicus Reburied As Hero 369

Posted by timothy
from the late-to-the-party dept.
CasualFriday writes "Mikolaj Kopernik, a.k.a. Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer whose findings were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical, was reburied by Polish priests as a hero on Saturday, nearly 500 years after he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. On Saturday, his remains were blessed with holy water by some of Poland's highest-ranking clerics before an honor guard ceremoniously carried his coffin through the imposing red brick cathedral and lowered it back into the same spot where part of his skull and other bones were found in 2005."
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Copernicus Reburied As Hero

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  • by Vadim Makarov (529622) <makarov@vad1.com> on Sunday May 23, 2010 @04:14PM (#32316544) Homepage
    Sometimes, i just dont understand people's motivation for this sort of thing. Copernicus was a great man, why on earth do we need to dig up his corpse and rebury him to honor his achievements?

    I think in essence this is a church advert. (They couldn't care less of the science he has discovered. Religion needs promotion. Same happened at the death of Newton.)

  • umm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nomadic (141991) <.nomadicworld. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday May 23, 2010 @04:21PM (#32316610) Homepage
    Mikolaj Kopernik, AKA Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer whose findings were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical,

    Do we have a cite for this?
  • So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rrohbeck (944847) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @04:23PM (#32316626)

    How long until Richard Dawkins will be sainted? 2510?

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @04:45PM (#32316790)
    I'd think that having his remains orbit the Earth Scotty-style would do as a fitting tribute. But this does raise the issue of "whose remains are they anyway"? The cathedral that the remains were originally buried and now reburied would probably have the final say on the launch, and its doubtful they'd go along. It's a little vexing that the church that condemned him in the first place essentially still control his remains five centuries on.

    .
  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @04:55PM (#32316900) Journal

    They're doing this as a PR stunt to distract people from the mistakes they're making today.

    Copernicus is known in almost every science class today. Who cares what The Church does with whatever-is-left-of-his-body now? 500 years later?

    Q: What's the definition of infallible?

    A: Get it completely wrong, persecute people who used actual science to get it right - I mean REALLY persecute them - put your political agenda and your authority ahead of truth - threaten them with torcher, put them under house arrest, deny them medical aid, make them fear for their lives, threaten them with eternal damnation - then 400-500 years later admit that your predecessors made a mistake and make use of the very science you tried to bury to shout from the rooftops how good and holy you are to be able to admit the error at all - really put on a show - set up an observatory, rebury people. Turn the whole thing into a 3 ring circus.

    Yeah I wonder why I'm not sold. I wonder why your numbers are dwindling.

    You know what REALLY pisses me off? When people who wish to excuse the bad behaviour of the church point out that Galileo was politcally unwise to ridicule the pope as if it makes the treatment he received okay just because he spoke out of turn and made an ass of himself. As if it's okay to bury scientific truth and torcher/imprision someone for speaking out of turn.

  • by VTI9600 (1143169) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @04:58PM (#32316924)

    This was no ordinary discovery. According to TFA, they spent six years searching for the remains. Once they were found, they used DNA markers (!) and facial bone reconstruction to positively identify the man as Copernicus. Everyone joking about how the church is 500 years behind in technology should take note.

  • by SakuraDreams (1427009) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @05:41PM (#32317256)

    The man is a national hero. You're not Polish and so you don't understand but try to get this - for almost 200 years Poland did not exist and Polish language, culture and identity were suppressed and systematically eliminated by Russia, Prussia, Austo-Hungary, then Germany and then the Soviet Union. We therefore value people like Chopin, Marie Curie-Sklodowska and Copernicus as national heroes to help preserve our identity. Hence the man is being honoured.

  • by RobertLTux (260313) <(robert) (at) (laurencemartin.org)> on Sunday May 23, 2010 @06:08PM (#32317442)

    the trick is that he was buried in an UNMARKED grave (and i suppose it was not "holy ground")
    so as part of the paper work they had to

    Exume the body/bones
    "ReSanctify" the ground and prep for the burial
    Do a whole burial ceremony
    File the 21 chunks of paper that The Church requires

    Its all a bunch of Red Tape (and how many not Chinese bureaucracies are around that date from 2 Millenniums ago??)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @06:50PM (#32317786)
    Perhaps more importantly, it should be emphasized that most religions would need radical surgery to meet the "sufficiently vacuous" standard.

    Christianity, for instance, is pretty thin sauce without immaculate conceptions, Resurrection, or any revelations. Islam doesn't have much to go on without the divine origin of the Koran, or any revelations to Muhammad. Judaism's 'covenant' is basically off the table, as is much of their origin backstory.

    And that is just the core stuff. In practice, any culture executing one of these religions for a sufficient length of time will accumulate a vast number of folkloric miracles, and minor saints and artefacts and things. Since a 'miracle' is a deviation from the course of physical law(or, in less dramatic and more frankly narcissistic cases, a possible but unlikely outcome occurring the way somebody wanted), any 'miracle' claims are direct steps onto the realm of 'scientific' statements about the material world.

    A religion that actually stays away from making ill-validated claims about the material world pretty much ends up as a sunday social club with a few operational rules cribbed from Moral Philosophy 101.
  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @07:42PM (#32318170) Homepage Journal

    Catholics care. They care because they believe in the sacrament of forgiveness. They care because they believe that people have immortal souls that can last more than 500 years after someone's death.

    Somehow I doubt Copernicus is going to forgive them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @09:17PM (#32318866)

    Well, then I guess I'll piss you off even further by pointing out that Galileo's views were discredited by actual DATA at the time. The most accurate data they had at his time did not support his interpretation. So no, scientific truth was not buried because of politics, scientific falsehoods (as judged by the scientific community of the day) were buried because of politics. Condemning the house arrest of political dissidents in an era when those unpopular with the rulers were often killed out of hand is as silly as complaining that Attila the Hun failed to abide by the Geneva Conventions.

    As to the infallibility question, the doctrine you refer to only applies when the Pope makes a ruling that he declares infallible, not in everyday decisions. Think of this as the difference between Lehman Brothers putting out a stock prediction and claiming to have received information from the future that this will be the price.

  • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @09:32PM (#32318962) Homepage

    Strange that a religion that claims to be so forgiving is also always threatening eternal torment to anyone who disobeys them

    Could you please quote the Catholic cannon that says that?

    ... an organization that claims to be the standard bearer of all things good uses the exact same psychological framework as an abusive relationship?

    See above.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @11:04PM (#32319474) Homepage

    Is it meaningless? Perhaps, perhaps not. The idea that we should *not* attempt to better people's situations seems to be a...not commonly held ideal.

    See, you're just providing an argument why it's meanigless. Sure, we do have a morality of which "making situation of people better" is an important part (China, for example)
    But you established previously that the "modern concept of heaven" doesn't include that. It's merely everybody gets the heaven they wish for (which somehow fits with general wishful thinking of religions; and how their concepts were washed out over the ages due to greater understanding of reality)

    "God is inherent in all things" is similarly meaningless. Somehow "hell"/"heaven" (since the distinction is meaningless already...) is now beyond "all things"?
    No, you've been just tricked by some social construct into thinking that you desperately need something which...(surprise!) this very same construct provides. The Church demonstrably does such things - it developing places it promotes sexual or, more generally, sexual practices which are harmful to the society...but which benefit the Church.
    It's like a complex gov beaurocracy set up to deal with certain problem - it has no motivation to fully eradicate the problem which assures its existence.

    And that gods are not beings of meat, as we are (nice that you're almost, unitentionally admitting that we're just meat)...was the point! Meat certainly doesn't define us with "in his image", it must about...mind.
    And gods were quite clearly defined for a long, long time; don't kid yourself they weren't. Also Abrahamic one (where are the miracles today?!). It's just that views defining them more clearly were less competitive, with less possibility of hatching onto human societies with all the progress happening around.

    It's not difficulty of reconciling omniscience (in loving god) with free will, it's an impossibility (yes, yes, "not an impossibility to gods..."; another meaningless thing, and not strictly true). By saying "for God, the cookies already exist within the world" you absolve him of any responsibility...while he has, according to mythology, the absolute one! And, funnily enough, you hint at one possible coherent explanation - that we're simply an ant farm of an amoral kid who has a bit too much power.

    PS. And as for the last part - sure, the ways by which Jesus from Nazaret lived are most likely (who knows how much whitewashing there was) decently fine even in our times (though - "don't judge"?! Who are you are kidding?...). But here's the problem - demonstrably, Christians (and other religions) are less likely to follow them. Just look at the top countries in any "nice" societal factors - high human development, low crime rates, low corruption, and so on. Notice their typical levels of secularism. Now look at the same factors in the most religious countries.

  • by seyyah (986027) on Monday May 24, 2010 @02:51AM (#32320538)

    I really wonder if this has more to do with 'certifying' Copernicus as being of Polish ethnicity than rehabilitating him as a Catholic. There is a lot of dispute over whether he was a Pole or a German and this kind of stunt may just be the kind of salvo that modern nationalists might fire.

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