The astronomer had argued that the Earth revolved around the Sun, in contradiction to church teachings at the time, and he was forced to renounce his findings publicly.
In comments made 15 years ago when he was still a cardinal, Pope Benedict is reported to have called the trial "reasonable and just."
During his speech, the pope -- then Cardinal Ratzinger -- quoted an Austrian philosopher Paul Feyerabend, saying, "At the time of Galileo, the church remained more loyal (or faithful) to reason than Galileo himself.
Shockingly enough, it was only 15 years ago that the Earth's moving through the heavens became accepted Catholic doctrine, and apparently Pope Benny still has doubts.
In any case, the Pope was forced to cancel his visit to La Sapienza university when students protested his anachronistic views and academics at the university signed a letter demanding that the trip be called off.
Good on them.
The other interesting thing is how Philosopher of Science Paul Feyerabend's name crops up. The Pope I think misreads Feyerabend here. PF's argument is that the Vatican applied canons of reason and justice to Galileo's case that, while perhaps self-consistent, in fact do not apply to cases of real scientific inquiry. But Feyerabend had a way of writing that lent itself to misinterpretation, and it is also not entirely clear whether he would have disapproved of his theories being used to defend anti-science positions like that of the Pope, or of Creation scientists, for that matter. He did, after all, defend Astrology and seemed to be quite sincere about it.