Galileo’s legacy continues to be rehabilitated by the Church.

On Sunday, a Mass was celebrated at the Vatican in memory of the 16th-century astronomer to mark the 445th anniversary of his birth, the Italian paper Corriere della Sera reported.

Presided by Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Mass was attended by scientists and astronomers from all over the world, including Russia and China.

Archbishop Ravasi said Galileo “knew how to distinguish between the two reasons: those of science, and those of truth, necessary for salvation and communicated to others through the Holy Spirit.”

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sent a message saying Galileo was “rightly called a divine man.” Cardinal Bertone added that “also today, in our era, a new breed of scientists is emerging who, in the footsteps of Galileo, renounce neither reason nor faith but on the contrary, value both in their reciprocity.”

Through Cardinal Bertone, Pope Benedict XVI gave a blessing. The Pope expressed his desire to welcome those present at the Mass, particularly members of the Chinese Academy of Science.

The Italian Minister for Education also sent a goodwill message.

— Edward Pentin