In 1580, the Gregorian Tower (also called the Tower of the Winds) was completed in the Vatican City for astronomers working on the Gregorian Calendar commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII. In 1787–1789, the Vatican Observatory (Specola Vaticana) was established in the Gregorian Tower and, although it has been moved several times, it has been part of the Vatican ever since. In the late nineteenth century, the Vatican Observatory was central to the creation of a photographic "Celestial Map" (Carte du Ciel) and a catalog pinpointing the stars' positions -- a project that was continued in the early twentieth century by a group of nuns from the Sisters of the Holy Child Mary. In 2014, Pope Francis said that he would baptize “Martians” – putting space aliens on the same level as Earthlings in the eyes of the Catholic Church. These are but a few of the examples of the 400 years or more confusing relationship between the Catholic Church and outer space and its residents. That confusion continued recently with comments from a noted Catholic theologian who said that Catholics need to be ready for ETs, and a nun living today in Roswell, New Mexico, who says “something happened” in Roswell and hints at a cover-up. What will Pope Francis think about these two?
“As even a few secular commentators on this matter have noted, some of the alleged “alien abduction” or “alien encounter” reports do seem to have parallels with historical and contemporary accounts of experiences that the Church recognizes to be diabolical.”
In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, Dr. Paul Thigpen – a best-selling author, award-winning journalist, a lay representative on their National Advisory Council and an historian, apologist, evangelist, and catechist for the Catholic Church – talked about his new book, “Extraterrestrial Intelligence and the Catholic Faith.” He opens with the long-accepted Catholic policy that some alien abductions and alien encounters sound suspiciously like demonic (diabolical) encounters. However, he then immediately backs away and says the majority of these cases are different than demonic deception and could be signs of extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI). For moral support as he treads into these dangerous theological waters, he name-drops “notable Fathers and Doctors of the Church” like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas who he says gave insights on how the existence of ETI is possible, and more recent Catholic leaders like Pope St. John Paul II, St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), and others who were known to affirm the existence of ETI. Then he addresses the “there’s no aliens in the bible” argument.
“Many have argued that ETI cannot exist because it’s not clearly stated in the Bible. Scripture, however, is also silent about atoms and microbes, dinosaurs and duck-billed platypuses; yet we know these things are indeed real. The Bible is not intended to be an exhaustive description of all that exists, and the knowledge of alien existence is not essential to our salvation.”
The long-excommunicated Galileo Galilei must be spinning in his grave on that one, along with Thigpen’s comment that the Catholic Church can get along with science and even accommodate new scientific knowledge. Of course, the existence of extraterrestrials is not scientific knowledge at this moment, and Thigpen admits if an intelligent species showed up one say, the church leaders (not to mention the Catholic social media) would “have many questions to ask about their spiritual and moral status,” which he believes would go into the formulation of a response. All of a sudden, Pope Francis’ quick reply that he would certainly baptize space aliens no longer seems to be a given. He then claims that having ETs on our doorstep, or even on the steps to our local church, would encourage Catholics to “delve much deeper into the meaning of traditional Catholic teaching about the omnipotence and creativity of God, the image of God in humanity, the fall of the human race, the nature of the Incarnation, the means and scope of redemption and the reality of the “last things.”” Really? Does he have any recent examples of such delving in the face of religious challenges or controversy?
“If we are moving toward a public, authoritative disclosure confirming the existence of ETI, Catholics need to be prepared to incorporate that new information into their understanding of the universe. But they need not fear that such a discovery or disclosure would undermine their faith.”
Thigpen concludes by pointing to the congressional hearings on UFOs, the Pentagon disclosures that there are some it cannot explain, and independent UFO and SETI research organizations searching for evidence. It almost sounds like he thinks there’s a cover-up. In fact, he says there is much more that the Pentagon and the intelligence community already know.
“We don’t know if there was a cover-up or a withholding of information, or for what reason information might have been withheld. We do understand that there has been serious scientific investigation as well as a great deal of lightweight commercialization of whatever event occurred.”
Would that knowledge Paul Thigpen is waiting for include information about the 1947 Roswell incident? In a second recent article, The National Catholic Register presents a connect-the-dots scenario between the alleged crash of an alien spaceship in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 and the establishment of the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an order of Catholic nuns who live in extreme poverty, separate themselves from the world, embrace solitude and silence, and devote themselves to prayer and worship. Even with their solitude, it seems obvious these sisters would have known about the hubbub of the Roswell incident less than a year before. The current monastery superior, Mother Mary Angela, told the National Catholic Register she herself was “not fully informed about the events, nor on the results of the investigations that have taken place,” and then proceeded to acknowledge the scientific investigation into the incident and the commercialization of it – both parts of which a good poor Catholic nun would probably have trouble with. Then Mother Mary Angela dropped the bombshell, acknowledging that:
Following that, she sounds like a an ancient aliens believers as she appears to connect Roswell to another ‘alleged’ incident 2,000 years ago when people was said to see powerful beings with wings come from the sky.
Does it sound like theologian Paul Thigpen and Mother Mary Angela are telling Catholics it is time to be openminded about intelligent extraterrestrial because there’s a good chance they are already here and the government knows about them?
What will Pope Francis do? What would Galileo do?
What will Catholics do?