Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented today on the myths, lies and smears presented in “Angels & Demons”:

“The tag team of Dan Brown and Ron Howard would have the public believe that Galileo was a member of a secret society, the Illuminati, and that the group seeks revenge against the Vatican today because of the Catholic Church’s anti-science history. All of which is nonsense.

“Galileo died almost 150 years before the Illuminati were founded on May 1, 1776. Yet Brown’s book says the secret society was founded in the 1500s, and the movie says the same. Even though Brown’s own website admits that the group was founded in 1776, he explicitly says that ‘It is a historical fact that the Illuminati vowed vengeance against the Vatican in the 1600s.’ Howard, for his part, has said in an interview that the Illuminati ‘were formed in the 1600s.’

“So why do they lie? Because their goal is to paint the Catholic Church as the enemy of science, and what better poster boy to trot out than their favorite martyr, Galileo? The ultimate victim, Galileo’s alleged persecution is cited as proof of the Church’s war on reason.

“Had it not been for the Catholic Church, the universities would have died during the Middle Ages. Had it not been for the Catholic Church, the Scientific Revolution would never have happened. After all, science did not take root in South America, Africa, the Middle East or Asia. In took place in Christian Europe.

“Galileo was never imprisoned or tortured. His confinement to house arrest, though unwarranted, was more a function of his arrogance than his ideas: he persisted in presenting his ideas (taken from Copernicus, a Catholic scientist who was never punished) as scientifically accurate, something which scientists of his day scoffed at.

“Why do Brown-Howard persist in their demonization of Catholicism? More on this tomorrow.”

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