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Extra-terrestrial life is possible, Vatican astronomer says May 14, 2008

In an interview for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's astronomer has offered his opinion that it is possible for Christians to believe in the existence of extra-terrestrial life.

Father José Gabriel Funes, an Argentine Jesuit, told the Vatican newspaper: "Just there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth there could be other beings, intelligent ones, created by God."

The astronomer's remarks appeared under the headline: "The extra-terrestrial is my brother." The interview in L'Osservatore Romano spawned dozens of headline stories in the secular press, many of them suggesting-- inaccurately-- that the Vatican had given official approval to belief in life on other planets.

Father Funes offered a more limited view, saying that the possibility of extra-terrestrial life cannot be disproved, and "does not contradict our faith." He argued that Christians should not attempt to place arbitrary limits on what God might have done in creating the universe.

However the Jesuit astronomer went on to speculate that if intelligent beings exist in another solar system, "they might have remained in full friendship with the Creator," and thus might not require salvation as the human race does.

Citing the perspective of St. Francis of Assisi, Father Funes said: "If we view earthly creatures as our brothers and sisters, why can't we speak of a brother from another planet?"

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