Over the last two months or so, I’ve seen several articles and social media posts concerning a dubious Wikileak from this October concerning extraterrestrial conspiracy theories and the Roman Catholic Church. Due to a few comments made by Pope Francis and the former Director of the Vatican Observatory, Father Jose Funes, several years ago, there seems to have been a recent resurgence of the idea that the Vatican’s inner circle is aware of an extraterrestrial presence on Earth.
Being born and raised a Catholic, I feel that I have to clear the air here. Is the Vatican, or any authoritative body for that matter, participating in a conspiratorial ET disinformation campaign? I highly doubt it. Does the Vatican believe in extraterrestrial life? Well...for an institution that has been around for nearly two millennia and has a perceived image of being conservative, the Roman Catholic Church is very forward thinking on the matter.
The Catholic Church is a significant player in the scientific world, especially in the field of Astronomy. Run primarily by the Jesuits, an order within the Church, the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope in Arizona is a highly advanced piece of machinery that has discovered many asteroids, exoplanets and galaxies. Alongside an Observatory in Italy, the Church has been mapping the skies since the late 1500’s.
Enter Father Jose Funes, who directed the Vatican’s Observatory between 2006 and 2015. In an interview in 2008 (English translation), he was asked if the study of intelligent extraterrestrial life was in opposition to Catholic dogma and teaching. Father Funes replied by saying that,
“I believe no. As a multiplicity of creatures exist on earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God. This does not contrast with our faith because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God. To say it with Saint Francis, if we consider earthly creatures as “brother” and “sister,” why cannot we also speak of an “extraterrestrial brother?” It would therefore be a part of creation.”
Father Funes also goes on to clearly explain the Church’s position on creation. Currently, with the most contemporary understanding of the universe, the Church promotes the theory of the Big Bang and the theory of human evolution. Funes states that,
“Faith and science are not irreconcilable. John Paul II said and Benedict XVI has repeated it: faith and reason are the two wings with which the human spirit rises. There is no contradiction between that which we know by means of faith and that which we learn from science. There can be tensions or conflicts, but we should not be afraid. The Church should not fear science and its discoveries.”
So does he discuss an extraterrestrial presence here on Earth? No. So where do the conspiracy theorists get this stuff from? It must have been what Pope Francis said in 2014.
According to the Vatican’s News Agency, Pope Francis was delivering a homily during mass in 2014 where he said,
“If – for example - tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here... Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them... And one says, 'But I want to be baptized!' What would happen? … When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, 'No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let's do it this way'... Who are we to close doors? In the early Church, even today, there is the ministry of the ostiary [usher]. And what did the ostiary do? He opened the door, received the people, allowed them to pass. But it was never the ministry of the closed door, never."
Pope Francis was in no way presenting a reality of extraterrestrial visitation, merely that the Church would baptise anyone, including extraterrestrials, if they were so inclined. We must appreciate that the Church is fundamentally founded upon the concept of love. As the Pope states above, all are welcome because they must be. Green skin or blue, human or Reptilian- the Church opens its doors to all.
It is these quotes that have been taken completely out of context by various parties in the 'conspiracy world'. Does the Roman Catholic Church, from a scientific astronomical perspective, think that there may be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? Of course! As much as the Church is a theological organisation, it is also a scientific one. There is a lot of universe out there brimming with galaxies, stars and planets (many of which have been discovered by the Catholic Church mind), so why wouldn’t a team of astronomers, who also happen to be priests, consider a hypothesis of alien life?
If God is your shepherd, you shall not want. If conspiracy theorists are your shepherd, enjoy getting a good shearing every once in awhile.
*MJ Banias is a writer, blogger, and researcher who critically and philosophically examines the modern UFO phenomenon, and other strange Fortean subjects. With a background in Critical Theory, History, and Cultural Studies, he enjoys exploring all things weird and anomalous. He is a field investigator with MUFON, has been featured on multiple podcasts, and writes for Mysterious Universe, RoguePlanet and the Deep Talk Radio Network.