I was reading the magazine "This Rock" while riding a train in Chicago. I couldn't find this specific article online but it talked about an accusation from Republican senator Arlen Spector who said...
"Michael Servetus has research on human anatomy. Pope Boniface VII banned the practice of cadaver dissection in the 12oos. This stopped the practice for 300 years and greatly slowed the accumulation of education regarding human anatomy. Finally, in the 1500s, Michael Servetus used cadaver dissection to study circuclation. He was tried and imprisoned by the Catholic Church."
This would be a pretty damning piece of evidence to show that the Catholic Church has always been afraid of controversial moral teachings IF it were true. Unfortunately, this story is like explaining the Civil war by saying that the South was upset by the way that Lincoln was elected so they fought against the oppressive tyranny of Abraham Lincoln. What makes me say that? To sum up this article, it's true that the church had a problem with Michael Servetus, but not because of his research. We actually trained him all about circulation in our church run universities. We had a problem with him because of his neo-Arian views. In other words, he didn't believe Jesus was fully God and fully human, just human. He professed it and and wrote about it. That is what brought him into conflict with the church. If you profess to be Catholic and then go against the most central teachings, doesn't the church deserve the right to ask you about it?
What did Arlen Spector convieniently leave out? Servetus was tried, convicted, and imprisoned by a Catholic court but he escaped and fled to Geneva. The Protestant court that was in power there tried him and killed him. Why condemn the Catholic Church and not even mention the fact that Protestants also tried him and didn't just imprison him but carried out an act of capital punishment for his heresy? The Catholic Church has a consistent ethic of life. There is no consistent message from our Protestant brothers and sisters. Spector knew he had to make up facts about the Catholic Church in order to make us look bad so that he could get stem cell research through. And this from a Republican, the party that's supposed to support us in the fight to protect human life. I guess it just goes to show that, in the end, they all hate it when the church speaks the truth.