The Vatican believes in aliens with souls and is willing to convert them to Christianity.
The Pope's Astronomer, Doctor Guy Consolmagno, said today that it is most likely that aliens exist and that they would most certainly have souls.
In a speech at the British Science Festival the self-professed science-fiction fan, planetary scientist and Jesuit brother said he was perfectly comfortable with the idea of intelligent life on other planets, but said that our chances of encountering it and being able to communicate with it are probably very slim.
Consolmagno said that “God is bigger than just humanity”, is also “the god of angels,” and that “any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.” However, he was quick to highlight his adoption of the medieval definition of a soul, which is “to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions.”
While we assume Consolmagno was joking about the multitude of tentacles, the Church has posited stranger things before, such as some magician coming back from the dead, turning a few loaves and fishes into thousands, and changing water into wine.
We are not sure if Cthulhu or Xenu are among these tentacled aliens with souls of which Consolmagno speaks, but they're probably flattered that the Church is thinking of them.
We wondered if the Vatican would see these aliens as being a product of creationism or intelligent design, but Consolmagno dismissed the idea, labelling both creationism and intelligent design as “bad theology.”
However, the discovery of aliens would raise huge theological difficulties for the Catholic Church, which is already struggling to deal with the theological implications relating to the human race.
Consolmagno is a big advocate of both science and religion, which he said can and should work alongside each other. In 2006 he was quoted as saying: “Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism.”
He said that the Vatican is very aware of what is going on in modern science, mainly through the Pontifical Academy of Science, which includes Stephen Hawking among its members.
Consolmagno said that he would be willing to baptise an alien and convert it to Christianity, but only if they asked.
He said that the Catholic Church's treatment of Galileo over his observation that the Earth revolved around the Sun was “spectacularly wrong,” echoing the words of Pope John Paul II in 1992, when he said the Church's accusations of heresy were a bad call.
The 57-year-old Consolmagno is one of 12 astronomers working for the Vatican and is the curator of a meteorite collection that the Pope has, which is something we didn't know the Pontiff had any interest in.
It is not clear if the Vatican believes these meteors were sent to Earth when God was in his younger, more vengeful days of the Old Testament or if the Church is saving them up for the End of Days in case supplies of fire and brimstone run low.