Dr Consolmagno, one of a team of 12 astronomers working for the Vatican, said the Catholic Church had been supporting and funding science for centuries.
A self-confessed science fiction fan, he said he was ‘comfortable’ with the idea of alien life.
Asked if he would baptise an alien, he replied: ‘Only if they asked.’
He added: ‘I’d be delighted if we found life elsewhere and delighted if we found intelligent life elsewhere.
‘But the odds of us finding it, of it being intelligent and us being able to communicate with it – when you add them up it’s probably not a practical question.
God is bigger than just humanity. God is also the god of angels.’
In the middle ages, the definition of a soul was to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions, he said.
Those characteristics may not be unique to humans.
‘Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul,’ he added.
With interviews like this you never know what’s left out, but I would have liked to have seen some distinctions made. For example the fact that there are different kinds of souls, Vegetative souls such as plants, Sensitive souls such as animals, and rational souls such as in humans. Every living thing by definition has a soul since the soul is the form of the body. It is only the rational soul that survives death.
So if an alien race was discovered that had a rational soul could it be baptized if the alien wanted to be baptized?
FIrst off the alien race would have to also have been fallen in that their equivalent of Adam and Eve sinned and that the alien race had original sin. God certainly could use humans as an agent to bring salvation to an alien race or to play some role as in C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. It could also be that God could redeem them in another way or even having the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity assume the nature of that alien race as Jesus did with us. In the area of theological speculations in this regard there are a lot of possibilities other than requiring humans to be used to bring aliens into the Mystical Body of Christ via the Sacrament of Baptism. Michael Flynn’s awesome book Eifelheim presents an intelligent story involving Baptism and aliens.
They could certainly have a totally different sacramental system. For example what if the aliens used Asexual reproduction? In that case it would seem to rule out the Sacrament of Marriage. It is another interesting question if God would create an alien race that did not image the Trinity like the human family does.
As to the question of the existence of aliens I am skeptical to agnostic on the subject. I would not be very surprised that God had created other life with rational souls since he created both the Angels and us. I just don’t that in any way is it a necessity that God created other intelligent life. When I was an atheist I was also rather skeptical about the existence of aliens and would believe it when there was actual evidence. Though many atheists because of the belief that enough time and randomness can lead to the creation of life, think that there there has to be other intelligent life as a result. This of course is a philosophy and not science.
Now if an intelligent alien race did visit us and it was God’s will that the system of sacraments he gave us would also apply to them I can think of all kinds of resulting problems. For example if since men can be ordained priests, would this leave out the possibility of ordaining aliens even if they had maleness? I would think that since God was fully human and fully God that aliens could not image him In Persona Christi. So what we will end up with is the Alien Ordination Conference running protests at Masses complaining about the male human hierarchy not allowing aliens to be ordained. Plus they would be complaining about all the human inclusive language in scripture.
If we have translations problems now can you imagine translating the Mass into an alien language? What is the alien word for ineffable?
Hat tip to Happy Catholic