Pope Benedict XVI, in a rare papal acquiescence to protest, has canceled a speech at the prestigious Sapienza University here amid opposition by professors and students who say he is hostile to science....
Dozens of students staging a sit-in at the university, where banners have been hung urging Benedict to stay away, cheered after the statement was released....
[P]rofessors and students objected...specifically [to] a speech that Benedict gave in 1990, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, on Galileo, condemned by the Inquisition in the early 1600s for arguing that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
In that speech, Cardinal Ratzinger, who would become pope in 2005, quoted the Austrian philosopher Paul Feyerabend as saying: “The church at the time was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was rational and just.”
Feyerabend was, of course, a somewhat irresponsible provocateur much of the time. Does anyone know the precise context of this remark? Is it as outlandish as it sounds?
(There is more detail here. Thanks to Cora Diamond for the pointer.)