It was taken that heliocentrism contradicted Scripture.
However, St. Robert Bellarmine, who was in charge of the
Galileo case, explicitly said that Galileo's theories
were not proved — but were they proved, then the
relevant passages of Scripture would have to be interpreted
in a non-literal way. Hence, St. Robert did not consider
the possibility of a change of interpretation impossible. The only doctrinal issue in question was the doctrine
of the inerrancy of Scripture. St. Robert knew, however,
that a non-literal interpretation saving this inerrancy
Without Galileo having proved his theory, (and
Galileo had not proved his theory, for instance, take
his erroneous explanation for the tides in terms of
the rotation of the earth sloshing the oceans around!),
the literal interpretation was to be preferred. Certainly,
geocentrism was not definitively taught. If it were,
St. Robert wouldn't have made his remark.
Note, too, that if general relativity is correct, then
the question is moot.
According to general relativity,
there is no absolute reference frame. It is literally
just as true to say that the earth goes around the sun,
as to say that the sun goes around the earth. It just depends
on whether you use the reference frame of the sun or
of the earth. For many (though not
all) purposes, calculations
and theories are simpler if you use the reference frame
of the sun, and thus suppose that the earth goes around
the sun, but this is only for convenience in calculation.
The Church had absolutely no problem with someone
saying that it is more convenient for calculation to
suppose that the earth goes around the sun. Indeed, the
Church wanted Galileo to say precisely this, that this
was a mere supposition for convenience of calculation
(a hypothesis in the parlance of the time).
Galileo refused to say this — he thought it was a literal
and absolute truth. General relativity says Galileo was
wrong, (but it likewise says that it is wrong to say
that the sun, literally and absolutely, goes around the
Alexander R. Pruss