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By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Intelligent life may exist on other planets and has no need of redemption through Jesus Christ, the Vatican’s top astronomer said.
The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, was quoted in the Wednesday (May 14) edition of the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
The interview appeared under the headline: “The extraterrestrial is my brother.”
“Just as a multiplicity of creatures exists on the Earth, so there could be other creatures, even intelligent ones, created by God,” the Argentine Jesuit said. “This does not conflict with our faith, because we cannot set limits on the creative liberty of God.”
According to Funes, such creatures may never have fallen into sin, and so have no need of salvation through Christianity.
“It is not a given that they have need of redemption,” he said.
“They may have remained in full friendship with their Creator.”
Asked about the possibility of redemption for sinful extraterrestrials, Funes said he was “sure that even they, in some way, would have the possibility of enjoying the mercy of God.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Funes argued that the “big bang” theory of the universe’s origins does not conflict with the biblical account of creation.
Funes also said that the Catholic Church had “recognized its errors” in its treatment of the 17th-century astronomer Galileo Galilei, who was convicted by the Inquisition for teaching that the earth revolves around the sun.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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