Vatican Astronomer Says Its OK to Believe in ET

Article Updated: 26 Apr , 2016

The director of the Vatican observatory said it’s possible that intelligent life exists on other planets. And since aliens would be part of God’s creation, their existence would not contradict the Catholic faith. In an interview with the Vatican newspaper Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes discussed the Big Bang theory, as well as creation and evolution. The interview was originally published in Italian, but a priest from Holland translated the full interview to English and posted it on his website,

Question: Does the theory of the Big Bang reinforce or contradict the belief that is based on the Biblical account of creation?

Fr. Funes: As an astronomer, I continue to believe that God is the creator of the universe and that we are not the result of chance, but the children of a good father, who has a loving plan for us. The Bible is fundamentally not a science book. Dei Verbum stressed that it’s the book of God’s word addressed to us men. It’s a love letter that God wrote to his people, in a language that is two or three thousand years old. At that time a concept like that of the Big Bang was of course unknown. So we can’t ask the Bible for a scientific answer. At the same time, we don’t know whether in a near or distant future, the theory of the Big Bang will be replaced by a more exhaustive and complete explanation of the origin of the universe. Right now, it’s the best theory, and i’s not contradicting faith. It’s reasonable.

Question: But the book of Genesis speaks of earth, of animals, of man and woman. Does this exclude the possibility of the existence of other worlds or living beings in the universe?

Funes: I think that that possibility exists. Astronomers believe that the universe consists of hundreds of billions of galaxies, and each of these consists of hundreds of billions of stars. Many of them, or almost all of them, could have planets. How could we rule out that life has also developed elsewhere? Astrobiology is a branch of astronomy that studies this very topic, and it has made a lot of progress over the last few years. When we examine the light-spectra of the stars and planets, we can quickly determine the elements of their atmospheres – the so-called “biomarkers” – and understand whether or not there are conditions for the birth and development of life. Furthermore, there could in theory be lifeforms even without oxygen or hydrogen.

Question: Do you refer also to beings similar to us, or even more evolved?

Funes: It’s possible. However, so far we haven’t got any proof. But in such a big universe, this hypothesis can’t be excluded.

Question: And that wouldn’t be a problem for our faith?

Funes: I don’t think so. Just like there is an abundance of creatures on earth, there could also be other beings, even intelligent ones, that were created by God. That doesn’t contradict our faith, because we cannot put boundaries to God’s creative freedom. As saint Francis would say, when we consider the earthly creatures to be our “brothers and sisters”, why couldn’t we also talk about a “extraterrestrial brother”? He would still be part of creation.

Question: And what about redemption?

Funes: Let’s borrow the image from the gospel about the lost sheep. The shepherd leaves the 99 of the sheepfold to search for the one that got lost. Let’s imagine that in this universe there are 100 sheep, corresponding to the different forms of creatures. We who belong to the human race, could very well be the lost sheep, the sinners that need the shepherd. Got has become man in Jesus to save us. In that way, even when other intelligent beings exist, it’s not said that they would need redemption. They might have stayed in full friendship with their Creator.

Question: I insist: when they would, on the contrary, be sinners, would redemption also be possible for them?

Funes: Jesus incarnated once and for all. The incarnation is a unique and non-repeatable event. However, I am certain that they too, in one way or another, would have the possibility to experience God’s mercy, just like we men have.

Link to the original article (in Italian) on the website of the Vatican.

Fr. Roderick also discusses this on his daily podcast.

Another post by Fr. Roderick about another interview with a different Vatican astronomer discussing how the bible might mention extraterrestrials.

Original News Source:

28 Responses

  1. Harry Bauls says:

    I think that this ufo crap is to distract us from what is really going on : Government Chickens are taking over the universe one planet after another. So far earth has proven difficult. The Government refuses to take responsibility for their creation of evil mutant chickens. They fear that the environmentalists will cause some friction with the fact that chicken fetuses were tampered with. So they use the ufo thing as a cover from the truth. Some are better off not knowing whats really going on… but the people need to know!

    The universe is a dangerous place but there is no more mystery there than in a textbook.
    It saddens me how ignorant people are to the truth.

  2. David says:

    Maybe I’m naive, but as a Christian I don’t see the problem with believing in the existence of ET’s, and I don’t see why other Christians would, either. The above conversation is quite generalized, but nevertheless articulates the importance of the relationship between cosmology and theology. Christ’s presence in the world does not negate Christ’s presence anywhere else in the universe and vice-versa. He came as a rabbi and met people as he found them. Who’s to say he wouldn’t take the form of whatever other life form in the universe to do likewise? I’m convinced the universe is teeming with life. I don’t see the problem with science, including the Big Bang, as a means of understanding it.

  3. Mr. LAME says:

    atheist astronomer says I DONT CARE

  4. Dark Gnat says:

    It’s nice to see that UT is not simply blasting away at religious endeavors like many other science websites.

    The work that is being done is what’s important, in terms of science.

    It’s a good reminder to all of us that science is, or should be a study for all people.

    Good work, UT!

  5. Eric B says:

    While I am not a practicing Catholic and never have been, I am actually glad to see these “baby steps” taken. Granted, I do not think most here will agree with the “it’s all gods creation” bit, but to have one of the worlds largest and powerful religions have an open enough thought process to think outside the stereotypical box, is somewhat encouraging.

  6. Nat says:

    Carl Sagan wrote, “How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed!'”

    I’m glad that Catholics seem to be making up for their anti-scientific history by taking up this torch in the 21st century.

  7. Chuck Pearce says:

    I agree this is a step forward by the Christian religion. However if you look back over history they have always done this. When science is presented, they must adapt their religious beliefs to accept specific findings. If you look at the trends in the next 100 years religion will be no more than a hobby with little to no “mythical science” behind it.

    I think this is a pre-emp to the Mars lander, if it does discover evidence of life, it might throw a wrench into some hardcore believers, so this is a way to prevent questions that might arrise. It is sad the damage that religion has done to hold back human development, just look at the easiest example, stem cell research.

  8. H-town Mack says:

    It’s like I’ve been thinking and saying for a while now. With all the more and more frequent ufo encounters and reporting occuring, and other such scientific discoveries of “possibilities of life”, are nothing more than preparation for the big reveal which “they’ve” all known for a long time. That E.T.’s do exist. For the Vatican to come out and say this is pretty huge in my book. I always imagined that if the day ever came where an organization like that came out with news such as this that the revelation is not far behind.

  9. Johnny T says:

    I can imagine the dialogue now:

    ET: Greetings.

    Humans: God created the Universe, and since we were created in his image, we are therefore superior to you. Submit to us and believe, lest you be dealt the consequences.

    ET: We’ll check back again when you gain official K1 status.

  10. Cynthia says:

    Tom Cruise and John Travolta agree…

  11. Dark Gnat says:

    I think it is great that the Catholic church is cool with astronomy.

    Now if we could just get those fundamentalist Protestants to be open to science, the world would be a bit more peaceful. 🙂

  12. Timber says:


  13. zeb says:

    Well that certainly put MY mind at ease…

  14. I guess, the next deductive reasoning, which must made

    >>Vatican Astronomer

    should be:

    “Its OK for Vatican to start Religious METI and send our Sermons to ETIs…”

  15. Steve says:

    I for one, am glad of the acceptance of religous views for potential expansion of their once and still lingering sterotypical views.

    I find this article very interesting, yet contradicting. Catholics preech we were all put here by “god,” yet when I respond about believing in evolution and the big bang theory, Im told that we can’t prove the big bang happened and therefor existed.

    Yet, somehow this unproved almighty being exists on the very same logic that the big bang can’t. Based on that logic, I could be a pastafarian and worship a flying mass of noodles and be just as right as someone who believes in god, yet I would be laughed at.

    This sole reason is why I find religion, in all forms to be a joke. It is simply nothing more than an invention of a hypocritical society of people in many cultures.

    This is not to say I don’t fault people for believing in it, because they’re guess is as good as mine of how we got here. I choose to believe in Darwinism because of physical evidence of evolution.

    I just can’t believe a group of people can be so arrogant to believe one thing over another without proof of either and label the others as sinners. Try arguing with the people that go door to door preeching about god and you will see what I mean

  16. Fay Heatia says:

    I agree with harry, see the mental institution i currently ‘attend’ doesn’t believe me, every time i mention it they give me pills. It is good to know that i am not the only person with sanity left in this world. Beware, and seriously count your chickens before they hatch, the goverment may be takign them and spawning them into mutant chickens to rule the universe.

  17. Tequi Illia says:

    The world will end tomorrow with the chickkens eatign the president….srsly

  18. Garmachi says:

    I’ll believe if and only if the aliens show up with Bibles.

  19. Rudy-Really-Religious says:

    We do pass poisonous Snakes around in my Church and we have passed the test, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this ….
    Let the ET’S take our test too and then , if they pass , they too may receive the blessing and become one of the chosen ones.

  20. pantzov says:

    good to see the church coming around to this method of reasoning. the existence of God need not conflict with anything in the cosmos.

  21. Gabriel says:

    Evolution.Adapt or disappear.It is the same with religion.It has to adapt to the thoughts and findings of the 21st century or it will disappear in the future.

  22. Gabriel says:

    Religion and science will merge in the future.There will no longer be separate.

  23. Luke says:

    Cracking quote from The Onion today:

    “Sure, what’s the harm in believing in two things with no physical evidence?”

  24. Steven says:

    Pre-emptive strike from the church,
    that what this is.

    When we do find life (probably on Mars) within the next few years,
    the Vatican Astronomer will be made a saint for making a prediction of life out there,
    even though the church has been burning people for saying just this for 100’s of years.

    Wouldn’t it be strange if we’d hear next week that the Vatican Astronomer ‘accidentally’ fell into a fire.

  25. Kevin M. says:

    The spirit of God in his church, of whatever denomination, has never been in contradiction to science, it is only the human institution of the church which resists loss of its earthly authority. It must be repeated: true faith and true science CANNOT contradict eachother. Blame the humans, not the gods.

    The Vatican astronomer (a Jesuit, I believe, see joke below) has always been more open to the science of things than his more conservative leaders are willing to verify. Churches never want to adjust their theology to fit new findings, but they simply have to. We are slowly getting used to it. The word “catholic” signifies “universal”, therefore the RC church, by its own definition, is OBLIGATED to accept any and all scientific facts as they are found. I say this as a Catholic, and I would say it as a Pope.

    However, this does not justify all particular actions based on scientific findings. For example, harvesting embyros to cure the diseases of others would still be criminal and “sinful” by any ethical measure, and we are just as obligated to resist that. Physics is not the last word in the universe, and much of life is incorporeal, that is, not based on matter at all, and we have plenty of evidence of the laws of physics being broken at will by people of unusual integrity. So these “laws” are simply not as absolute as we would like to believe. To state that they are is a personal choice of opinion, never a provable fact.

    Such discussions always make me think of two grains of dust or sand wondering if there could be any others out there? Of course there are others, countless others, and the Creator somehow redeems all of them. It also must be repeated, that WE are aliens, and ali other beings will be PEOPLE, just like us. The next great step of theology is to resolve exactly this dawning reality. If we can formularize something as mysterious as the Trinity, then this will be no harder, just a question of the will and humility to do it.
    The almighty being does not exist on logic, but on the cold, observed facts that the universe, existence and consciousness itself is fundamentally outside our grasp. We are infintely powerless, dependent specks in the cosmos. But if we are conscious, then the entire universe is primarily a conscious entity, and therefore personal, and whomever the source of it is, they are infinitely greater than us.

    Catholic explanatory joke: A Jesuit, a Dominican and a Fransican are in a house together, and the lights go out. The Fransican sits down and praises the goodness and beauty of the darkness. The Dominican holds a great debate, with great minds from far and wide, to discuss the relative merits of whether it would be good or evil to change the fuse. And the Jesuit just changes the fuse.

  26. Kevin M. says:

    …”But if we are conscious beings in the universe, then the entire universe must be fundamentally a conscious entity, and if conscious then personal, and whomever this personal source of existence is, they are infinitely greater than us”… and we must reflect their nature exactly, being products of them. Catholics hold logically that humans cannot be something greater than the universe which we come from. Therefore, an infinite consciousness must be pre-existent and inherent in the makeup of all things in order for beings such as us to emerge out of it. Therefore, there must be an infinite, pre-existent consciousness in place, uncreated, necessary for all else to exist, and outside of time. Whoever this is, and it must be a personal “who”, is what we refer to as God. It cannot be an impersonal “force” or anything less than human, logically. If humans are personal and conscioius, then the pre-existent awareness that we emerged from must be no less than personal and conscious, with direction, purpose, intellect and will, as well as emotion, insight, foresight, and hindsight. We may observe laws and characteristics of matter, we have real knowledge of matter, we have real power and free will to choose, but we are neither ultimately in charge nor ultimately responsible for the universe, except for our own actions within it. And ultimately , all our actions must come down to some kind of eternal, ethical judgment for a truly personal universe to make sense. Personhood is the ultimate nature and characteristic of existence.

  27. J.Jose says:

    When was the last time the world was eager to wait for the words and opinion of the catholic church.
    Church lost its monopoly and command over the world centuries back. Church was a looser by delaying an apology to Galileo.
    I think the world will give due respect to church and it authority if they limit their commands over the spiritiuality of the followers. Pope has to appoint more liberal people to handle the scientific issues. Church has to understand in the open world non believers also have the right to raise questions about the never proven concept called God. Or they have to prove to the world and bring out the God in public. Alteast church can threw away those fictions like ‘Genensis’ from their Bible.

  28. Anonymous Agnostic says:

    My respect for the catholic way of christianity keeps growing constantly in the last years. Personally I am pretty much areligious but I have always respected Cardinal Ratzinger as one of the most brilliant minds in european academia and he has truly established a climate where reason of thought can flourish. I only wish those brainwashed creationists in America would finally realize that they fail completely in terms of interpreting our existence. Its disgraceful how they have perverted christianity.

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