Pope Benedict XVI is marking the 400th anniversary of Galileo's use of a telescope.

Benedict said Sunday he wanted to salute all who are marking the 2009 anniversary and UNESCO's World Year of Astronomy.

Speaking on the winter solstice, Benedict said understanding the laws of nature can stimulate understanding and appreciation of the Lord's works.

The Catholic Church condemned Galileo in the 17th century for supporting Nicholas Copernicus' discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun; church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe.

In 1992, Pope John Paul II apologized, saying that the denuncuation was a tragic error.

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