The Pope’s astronomer has said he would be happy to “baptise an alien” after saying the stars may be full of intelligent creatures who possess souls.
Brother Guy Consolmagno said he would be happy to bring extraterrestrials into the Church but admitted that the chances of communicating with alien life were low.
Speaking at the British Science Festival in Birmingham, Dr Consolmagno also dismissed Creationism and said that intelligent design was “bad theology”.
Dr Consolmagno, 57, one of 12 astronomers working for the Vatican, said the Catholic Church had been supporting and funding science for centuries.
He said: “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.” Asked if he would baptise an alien he replied: “Only if they asked.”
He added: “Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.”
Dr Consolmagno is the curator of the Pope’s meteorite collection, a trained astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican’s observatory.
Speaking about intelligent design, the idea that only God can explain gaps in Darwin’s theory of evolution, he said: “The word has been hijacked by a narrow group of Creationist fundamentalists in America to mean something it didn’t originally mean at all.
“It’s another form of the God of the gaps… It’s bad theology in that it turns God once again into the pagan god of thunder and lightning.”