PopeWatch: Martians

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Pope Francis raised a very intriguing question at his homily at Mass yesterday:

 

“That was unthinkable. 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?”

Peter understands his error
when a vision enlightens him to a fundamental truth: that which has been
purified by God cannot be called “profane” by anyone. And in narrating these
facts to the crowd that criticized him, the Apostle calms them all with this
statement: “If then God gave them the same gift He gave to us when we came to
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder
God?”

“When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord,
it is not prudent! No, lets do it this way’… and Peter in that first diocese –
the first diocese was Antioch – makes this decision: ‘Who am I to admit
impediments?’ A nice word for bishops, for priests and for Christians. 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.”

Again Pope Francis repeated, God has left the guidance of the
Church “in the hands of the Holy Spirit.” “The Holy Spirit – he continued – as
Jesus said, will teach us everything” and “remind us what Jesus taught
us”:

“The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God in the Church. He
keeps the Church going, keeps the Church moving forward. More and more, beyond
the limits, onwards. The Holy Spirit with His gifts guides the Church. You
cannot understand the Church of Jesus without this Paraclete, whom the Lord
sends us for this very reason. And He makes unthinkable choices, but
unimaginable! To use a word of St. John XXIII: it is the Holy Spirit that
updates the Church: Really, he really updates it and keeps it going. And we
Christians must ask the Lord for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit.
Docility in this Spirit, who speaks to us in our heart, who speaks to us in all
of life’s circumstances, who speaks to us in the Church’s life, in Christian
communities, who is always speaking to us.”
Go here to read the rest.  Hmmm, baptizing non-humans?  All sorts of questions are raised:

1.   Would the Martians have a soul?

2.   Did Christ die for them, or has God arranged another method for their salvation, assuming they have souls?

3.   Should we assume that aliens with intellects like ours have souls?  What about artificial intelligence entities?

4.   What moral teachings of the Church should be imposed upon prospective alien converts?

5.   What if the aliens do not have male and female sexes, could any of them be ordained?

6.   Would the aliens be subject to original sin?

7.   What if they have no concept of sin?

8.   Are they the sheep who are not of this flock who Christ was referring to?

9.   If they have religions of their own, would ecumenicalism be applicable to these alien faiths?

10.  What if the aliens decide that blogging is the true sign of the anti-Christ?

Inquiring minds want to know!

47 Responses to PopeWatch: Martians

  • Um, I’m more concerned about the language of progressivism:

    “Who am I to admit impediments?’ A nice word for bishops, for priests and for Christians. Who are we to close doors?”

    The Holy Spirit moving the Church forward, beyond the limits. Making unthinkable choices, updating the Church. . .

    I don’t know, maybe its because I just finshed reading an article on Communion and remarried . . . I’m just seeing red flags all over the place. . .

  • Our ever generous and humble pope earnestly seeks to widen that Narrow Gate! No gatekeeper he, nor should we be. Who are we to close doors!?

    .

  • John Paul II thought it important to cross a threshold, to enter through the ancient door. ppfff. A new model of the Church to add to Cardinal Dulles’ list – no door at all! No floor or ceiling either. The Church won’t just be invisible! It will cease to have life.
    .
    O, the things that can be ascribed to the Holy Spirit! No limit!

    Free personal interp! What could be more Protestant than to claim a more developed or evolved conscience than the Teaching Mother herself. That magisterium has been holding back our understanding of love for too long! Real generosity is to encourage free form religion. The primacy of Francis’ conscience trumps Tradition.

  • Karen: My thoughts exactly.
    .
    Anzlyne: Exactly. .
    “To use a word of St. John XXIII: it is the Holy Spirit that updates the Church: Really, he really updates it and keeps it going.”
    .
    “I AM WHO I AM”. It is the Holy Spirit WHO, WHO, WHO updates the Church. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of God.
    .
    That said: My job.
    .
    Ever in love with aliens as ourselves returning after a long hiatus in outer space, (Einstein’s theory of relativity; the green comes from solar radiation) I respond thusly:
    .
    The aliens asked for baptism. Therefore, they have free will. Since Pope Urban V baptized arabica bean coffee, an alien or an artificial intelligence, baptized conditionally will hurt no one except the devil.
    .
    Since Thomas Aquinas defined the human being as an individual substance of a rational nature, and it appears that the alien has a rational nature not only capable of grasping the Catholic Faith, but desiring the Faith, the alien would understand our Constitution and freedom of religion. (You cannot blame aliens for the totalitarianism going on in America today)
    If this is only a ploy, a Trojan Horse, to deter mankind from the truth, the devil is behind it. Baptizing the devil would be the devil’s just deserts.
    .
    “1. Would the Martians have a soul?”
    .
    Martians would have Martian souls.
    .
    “2. Did Christ die for them, or has God arranged another method for their salvation, assuming they have souls?”
    .
    Martians evidently need salvation because of their choice of Baptism to enter into the Church of Christ. Since Baptism is the door to all salvation, Martians will be applying for the same salvation as people.
    .
    “3. Should we assume that aliens with intellects like ours have souls? What about artificial intelligence entities?”
    Again, Martians would have Martians souls and are asking for salvation through the Catholic Church.
    .

    “4. What moral teachings of the Church should be imposed upon prospective alien converts?”
    .
    All. Since this is the Faith and the Faith is embraced and it is the Faith that the aliens are requesting.
    .

    “5. What if the aliens do not have male and female sexes, could any of them be ordained?”
    .
    NO. Acting “in persona Christi” is not possible for the alien without manhood.
    .
    “6. Would the aliens be subject to original sin?”
    .
    If the aliens were not subject to original sin, they would not be asking for baptism but would be walking around in paradise, in innocence.
    .
    “7. What if they have no concept of sin?”
    .
    If aliens have no concept of sin, then they would be irretrievably innocent or guilty and not asking for baptism. Only the human being needs baptism. They would be angels or demons, and both above our grasp, intellectually and spiritually.
    .
    “8. Are they the sheep who are not of this flock, who Christ was referring to?”
    .
    Jesus said to test everything. The aliens might be asked as happens during the Sacrament of Baptism.
    .

    9. If they have religions of their own, would ecumenicalism be applicable to these alien faiths?
    .
    Tolerate the atheist, alien. Atheism is unconstitutional. If they are seeking the true Faith, then, they already know.
    .

    10. What if the aliens decide that blogging is the true sign of the anti-Christ?
    .
    Then, the alien knows Jesus Christ to make such a slanderous remark. The alien violates Christ’s admonition to love one another. If we and the aliens are not brothers, then again, baptism is not what they really are asking for, but some kind of power over people. But it is not sovereignty. Sovereignty makes of man a servant of all. Sovereignty is that which makes us all brothers, loving one another as Jesus instructed us to do.
    .

    Inquiring minds want to know!
    .

    Jesus said to test everything.

  • “But it was never the ministry of the closed door. Never.”

    All are welcomed. All are asked to sin no more. To repent. To convert. To follow. Follow.

    If we are following the Christ who never changes, who is was and will always be, than might it be prudent to follow His teaching and the centuries of understanding put forth by acclaimed theologian’s who’s proof of indwelling of the Holy Spirit had been scrutinized by fellow theologian throughout history?

    Holy Spirit vs. snakey spirit

    What spirit won the better of Martin Luther?

    Careful Pope Francis. Discern the spirit.
    I hope he doesn’t pull the tiller to hard in one direction. The sails luff. The ship slows. The course changes.
    The ship will make it’s destination…eventually. :(

  • Mary De Voe brings up an interesting point:

    “6. Would the aliens be subject to original sin? If the aliens were not subject to original sin, they would not be asking for baptism but would be walking around in paradise, in innocence.”

    Pope Pius XII states the following in paragraph 37 of Humani Generis:

    “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.”

    By definition aliens – extraterrestrial sentient beings – do not originate from Adam’s line. Therefore, they are not subject to the original sin committed by Adam and Eve. Thus, they are innocent of that sin and the plan of salvation – redemption through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the Cross – does not apply to them.

    That said, these aliens may have in the past committed their own original sin, and there may be an entirely separate plan of salvation for them. The Bible is silent on this simply because it deals exclusively with God’s plan for us. It may indeed be that because we have demonstrated so little comprehension of and obedience towards God’s specific plan for us that He deems us incapable of understanding what He has planned for other intelligences. In other words, it is none of our business.

    Personally, I believe that the Universe, being so vast, is filled with life and intelligence. After all, God is supremely life and supremely intelligence. I also thing that if these sentient extraterrestrials have even a modicum of intelligence, they would do well to avoid the barbaric, violent and backward inhabitants on our little planet, leaving to God what is best left to God.

    Thankfully God has established a universal speed limit – 186,282 miles per second or 299,792 kilometers per second – which makes radio communication with such intelligences on planets light years distant problematic at best, and travel almost non-feasible. This provides an effective protection against contamination not for our benefit but for the benefit of such alien intelligences, and barring the development of the Alcubierre warp drive (yes, that is a real concept – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive) or something similar, we will remain isolated to fulfill our destiny in God’s plan.

  • What fun! I want to play! And no, it’s not sarcasm.

    3. Should we assume that aliens with intellects like ours have souls? What about artificial intelligence entities?
    Yes, aliens “with intellects like ours” would have souls – the more ‘worrisome’ issue is those that have different intellects. A.I. entities would not be created by God and so would not have souls.

    4. What moral teachings of the Church should be imposed upon prospective alien converts?
    Perhaps none. “Laws are made for men, not men for laws”. Aliens might get their own set. At a minimum, though, aliens should be expected to adhere to human law in their treatment of humans.

    5. What if the aliens do not have male and female sexes, could any of them be ordained? Hehe. The easiest speculation on this would involve some role reversal, such as we see with seahorses, but with more ambiguity. Then again, the issue would only come up if they wanted ordination.

    6. Would the aliens be subject to original sin?
    Aliens “with intellects like ours” would be subject to original sin. That subjugation is a core component of out intellects. Our world is inherently imperfect, and we sense ideals of perfection (sometimes we call that God). It is hard to imagine “intellects like ours” that would differ.

    7. What if they have no concept of sin?
    Again, aliens “with intellects like ours” would have a concept of sin. See # 6.

    9. If they have religions of their own, would ecumenicalism be applicable to these alien faiths?
    Of course ecumenicalism would be applicable. Why not?

  • OK, now I’m going to post something that starts more ‘religious’ arguments than any other: there probably are no aliens.

    There are no extraterrestrial UFOs. There are hundreds of thousands of astronomers worldwide, and they almost never make any UFO reports. Why do the people most familiar with the sky make the fewest UFO reports? Either because astronomers are aliens, or in cahoots with them, or because there are no extraterrestrial UFOs.

    So without evidence all we have are logical arguments. Here they are:

    1) The Copernican argument: the universe is so vast, so many galaxies, stars, planets, etc. If life began on earth due to natural processes it should also happen again and again.
    This is an obviously thumbs up argument.

    2) The Rare Earth argument: to get life started on a planet that planet may need a large moon in orbit to stir up the tides. As we find more planets in ‘Goldilocks’ orbits and develop the instruments to view their gasses we will get a better idea of the validity of this argument. But it should be noted that we have our moon due to a very low probability chance collision. Thumbs down.

    3) The Evolutionary argument: evolutionary theory and natural history tells us that when organisms need something for survival that something evolves rather quickly. For example, organs for vision have evolved many times. Our brains have evolved only once, as far as we can tell. Put it this way, if anyone on this planet before us developed nuclear fission the fallout would still be measurable, so we know that didn’t happen. Evolutionary theory tells us our brains are not necessary for survival as a species, since so many (sea cucumbers, cockroaches) have done so well without them. Thumbs down.

    4) The Galactic Merger argument: galaxies interact and merge throughout history, and most end up in a state in which life cannot evolve. The majority of mergers result in the loss of spiral arms (so-called elliptical galaxies), and the spiral arms are the recycling process that forms new planetary systems out of supernovae ejectra. Life on earth could not exist without that ejectra. So, if a galaxy goes elliptical too soon it will never develop life as we know it. Thumbs down.

    5) The Artificial Intelligence argument: Enrico Fermi and John von Neumann showed in the 1940’s how self replicating robots can take over the Milky Way galaxy within 3 million years of the first one being built. These machines would not be much more advanced than our present technology (which means we are within a century or two of pulling this off), and so our technology should detect this activity in our galaxy, at least on our side of it. Since we don’t, the conclusion is they are not out there, or at least we are the first. (Since the history of technology on earth shows that culture is a factor, the counterargument that all aliens leapfrog to a higher technology we cannot detect is illogical. Somewhere someone must be too dull to figure out wormhole 101 and so would launch these robots)

    OK, no evidence to weigh 5 arguments, so they are all equal. This gives us 80% odds that they are not out there. I’m glad I don’t post my home phone, it would never stop ringing after this post.

  • Just bizarre. There are no alien life forms from another planet. Period. Who says so? The Church. Christ is the Redeemer of all men. To entertain the possibility of “aliens” is to insult the revelation of Christ and the uniqueness of man and the incarnation of the God-man. Original sin? Non-existent “aliens” would not have it because they are not children of Adam. Even the angels are not “members of the Body of Christ” although they are “saved” by Christ, not from sin, but from a finite everlasting happiness that would be short of the beatific vision. Angels had to believe in the Incarnation prior to their elevation into eternal bliss. Lucifer and his rebels refused to obey the command: “Let all the angels of God adore Him.”

  • “There are no alien life forms from another planet. Period. Who says so? The Church. Christ is the Redeemer of all men. To entertain the possibility of “aliens” is to insult the revelation of Christ and the uniqueness of man and the incarnation of the God-man.”

    I don’t know kelso. A similar argument was made prior to Columbus that people could not be living on undiscovered continents because then they would be unable to hear the gospel preached to them. If there are no aliens than God went through the trouble of making a very big universe, perhaps a very big multi-verse, for us alone, which strikes me as disproportionate. We shall see in God’s good time.

  • I strongly disagree with Keslo. The Church has never formally declared the intelligent life elsewhere throughout the physical universe to be non-existent. That would be making the same mistake as was made during the case of Galileo, and even there the Church did not declare in her most solemn, formal way.

    There is an interesting discussion on the Drake and Seagar Equations at the following web link. These are used for assessing the probability of intelligent life throughout the universe. It is a given that this planet demonstrably lacks such intelligence. ;-)

    http://io9.com/what-a-brand-new-equation-reveals-about-our-odds-of-fin-531575395

    Given the extreme vastness of the universe in both space and time, the chance for intelligent alien life is non-zero. It may be small, but the universe’s vastness in space and time makes it almost inevitable that God, being supremely life and supremely intelligence, would have so populated it. Why do we not see evidence thereof? Simple: the restriction imposed by the universal speed limit of light: 186282 mps or 299792 kps.

    I will repeat what I wrote above. Sentient extraterrestrial life by definition did not arise from Adam, and as such is not subject to Adam’s original sin. Thus, the plan of salvation that God offered mankind does not and cannot apply to such sentient beings. Any original sin to which they are subject is completely their own, and any plan God has for their salvation is strictly for them and not us. We cannot even comply with His plan for us, so why should He tell us about His plan for them?

  • This Pope devastates me daily. Baptize non-human aliens? Really? and who is he to admit impediments? Should we baptize elephants or chimpanzees? I am afraid that we are about to reap a very bitter harvest. Pope Francis seems determined to throw the doors open – even to encourage – real discussion of many issues that have been long closed. It is not healthy to throw everything open for discussion. Some things are settled and should stay that way. Pope Francis and those close to his heart clearly feel otherwise.

  • To get an idea of the scale of the universe, please go here:

    http://www.scaleofuniverse.com/

    Forgive the advertisement and music. Using this on a tablet or phone may result in problems, but it will work on a PC.

    Note that the size of a man is almost in the center between the smallest thing – Planck length – and the largest thing – diameter of the physical universe. I had known that before and I still find that interesting. Man’s life time is (I am given to understand) also in the middle between Planck time and the age of the universe.

    In all this vastness of space and time, the most incredible thing would be the solitary, single occurrence of sentient life, that being on this planet Terra or Earth. It is possible that this may be the case, but I doubt it.

  • Pope Francis seems unfamiliar with these passages of the New Testament:

    2 John 9-12 “Anyone who is so ‘progressive’ as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works.”

    Titus 1:10-11 “For there are also many rebels, idle talkers and deceivers, especially the Jewish Christians. It is imperative to silence them, as they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what they should not. ”

    2 Timothy 4:1-5 “But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them.”

  • PS, I agree with Don the Kiwi. If we admit that chimpanzees or dolphins are sentient (possible in the case of the latter – we still do not know), even then the plan of salvation would not apply to them because they are not born of Adam and hence are not subject to Adam’s original sin. This is implicit in paragraph 37 of Humani Generis.

    Furthermore, even if chimpanzees or dolphins are sentient, God gave man dominion over (stewardship of) them in Genesis. Their sentience would entail even more responsibility on our part to be faithful stewards of God’s creation, to exercise care and love for God’s gift of life and intelligence. (We have NOT been doing a good job in that regard). Baptizing non-human sentient creatures is simply illogical and wrong.

  • “If there are no aliens than God went through the trouble of making a very big universe, perhaps a very big multi-verse, for us alone, which strikes me as disproportionate. We shall see in God’s good time.”
    Hi Don. Yes it may seem disproportionate. I personally believe that the existence of the multiverse can be inferred (though not proved), and so there are likely a huge number of parallel universes, although most probably disappear very quickly. But it would stand to reason that a God who wanted to create a species like us for the purposes that the Church claims and with the gift of free will would need to create a multiverse which such huge possibilities. Free will requires that God not be too obvious about his handiwork, otherwise faith would be too easy. So, I have little problem with the idea that we are alone.

    As someone once put it, either aliens are out there, or they are not. Either way, the answer is profound.

  • Opps, I meant to say I agree with Don. Don the Kiwi has a different ID. Sorry!

  • I don’t believe in humanoid beings from another world. We ‘re the only ones period. The only other forms of intelligent life are God, the angels, and the demons.

    As for the encounters some people have with UFO’s and reputed aliens, I’ve come to believe that these are encounters with demons. For when you compare UFO encounters with stories from the Bible and other world literature about encounters with angels and demons, they are remarkably similar. Even the USAF Project Blue Book said many of the UFO stories they collected fell into the realm of psychic phenomena, not physical phenomena.

  • “I don’t believe in humanoid beings from another world.”

    It is exceedingly improbably that sentient life elsewhere would have taken the same developmental path to produce humanoid beings. Much more likely is the chance that such life would be completely alien and by definition non-humanoid. Alien beings may have more limbs than we, being constructed like insects. They may be cold-blooded reptilian in nature vice warm blooded mammalian (we have plenty of so-called humanoids on this planet that fit that description!).

    Alternatively, their life chemistry may be completely different. A planet cold compared to ours may have life based on methane and ammonia and various petro-chemicals instead of water, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. A planet hot compared to ours may have life based on silicon and arsenic and gallium and lead. In any of those cases, the rise of a humanoid being is very, very unlikely. Indeed, this is implicit in name “alien.” We cannot limit God’s creative power because after all God is infinite, He is supremely life and He is supremely intelligence.

  • “As for the encounters some people have with UFO’s and reputed aliens…”

    Because of the universal limit of light speed, I consider the chances of UFOs being alien spacecraft to be very, very small. Besides, sentient aliens would do well to avoid this little planet with all its warring factions. If they have the intelligence to cross interstellar space, then surely they have the intelligence to stay the heck away from a burning house.

  • “Alternatively, their life chemistry may be completely different. A planet cold compared to ours may have life based on methane and ammonia and various petro-chemicals instead of water, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. A planet hot compared to ours may have life based on silicon and arsenic and gallium and lead.”
    Probably not. It is hard to imagine life without a solvent of some kind. Ammonia seems to be close enough to water to do the trick, but it has a problem that every other solvent but water has: it sinks when frozen. Any global ocean of ammonia would tend to freeze solid or nearly so. This is not to say that is can’t be the basis of life, but it does make it statistically less likely.

    The same goes with other alternate chemistries. For multicellular creatures oxygen is the ideal energy transport – other elements are too reactive or not reactive enough. The carbohydrate-hydrocarbon complex of molecules has more diversity than any other analogue. And most of all, the further down the periodic table you go, the lower the abundance of elements become. I’m not going to say that alternate biochemistries are impossible – that would be foolish. But it is statistically more likely that alien life would have biochemistries more like ours than not. Of course, that also does not mean that our particular amino acids, RNA, and DNA are predetermined, but something similar would need to exist, even in alternate chemistries.

  • It would be the easiest thing in the world to tell if Martians have souls.

    As Wittgenstein said, “the human body is the best picture of the human soul” (Philosophical Investigations, , II, iv, 178) and “My attitude towards him [another human being] is an attitude towards a soul. I am not of the opinion that he has a soul” (Ibid.)

    We are not (I hope) Cartesians, who believe we encounter other bodies and have to infer that other souls or minds are somehow located “inside” them, and that the bodily behaviour of human beings is merely a fallible external indicator of hidden mental processes. “Just try in a real case – to doubt someone else’s fear or pain” (Ibid., I, § 303)

  • “If they have the intelligence to cross interstellar space, then surely they have the intelligence to stay the heck away from a burning house.”

    Perhaps. However, it was warring Europe that sent forth fleets, explorers and conquerors throughout the world five centuries ago, and I think that technological advances and wars often walk hand in hand. I could easily imagine a warlike star spanning species that would our puny wars with amusement and/or contempt. Of course they could have a completely alien logic and motivations that would seem bizarre indeed to us. As for the light speed limitation I suspect that we will find a way around it long before we are ready to capitalize on it. As for no extra terrestrials visiting us, that might be an argument for no intelligent species more advanced than us, at least within several hundred light years. It could also mean that intelligent species are quite common, and why both exploring one more on our little ball?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/science/faster-than-the-speed-of-light.html?_r=0

  • Thanks for the response Don. The Church knew of the vastness of China, for example, before the age of exploration. Dominicans were there in the late 1100s. There are also Catholic remnants (crosses, etc.) that have been dated back to post apostolic times. Saint Thomas preached in east India, some say perhaps even part of China. Missionaries were in America before Columbus, ruins have been found, with Christian inscriptions in certain parts of the Ohio Valley. I do not have the sources now in front of me. Brendan the Navigator came to our shores with missionaries, but they were not successful at all. I think it was Church historian John Gilmary Shea who devoted pages to these early expeditions.

    My main point is centered on the Incarnation. Was it only our planet that needed a Savior? Are there other Incarnations of Christ in this “vast” universe? Other Mothers of God? Yes, the universe is huge. And yes, it is for our contemplation, to give us a sense of the Almighty power of God, who, as you know, went through no trouble at all in creating. Perhaps, if man had not fallen his intelligence would have enabled him to travel to other galaxies. I just do not see why the speculation is entertained. It poses to many theological problems. And, it’s all a guess based on probabilities, and indeed they are next to zero. That fact, too, shows men God’s wisdom, in creating a world that would not be able to be a home for man were it even a slightly bit further from the sun or closer, etc. etc. as Tom D argued above. Of course God could create whatever worlds He willed, and that includes rational material beings. But, it is the idle word to speculate on such things while the gospel is still not preached in its fullness in so many places here on earth. Thanks to the new thinking on salvation outside the Church and the ensuant loss of the missionary spirit.

  • I agree Don. The thing is, this pope baptized the child of a known lesbian couple who did not hide the fact that they are not practicing Christians, much less Catholic. To me this indicates he has no respect for the sacrament. We have always had infant baptism based on the faith of the parents. The child can not give assent or accept Jesus and reject the devil and all his pomps, but the parents can. And they are responsible for teaching the child the importance and validity of the indelible mark that has been placed on his soul.
    This pope is essentially questioning the need for any requirement for baptism. Aliens.
    And what about respect for the sacrament of marriage?! 50 % prob not valid! Priests torturing people in the confessional. What an invitation to come for reconciliation.
    Concerned and sad.

  • I agree with Kelso’s reasoning. I don’t know that the Church has officially said anything about it, but I agree with Kelso’s logic and intuition.

  • “The Church knew of the vastness of China”

    Not the same thing. Saint Augustine started the idea that humans could not populate the antipodes:

    “But as to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours, that is on no ground credible. And, indeed, it is not affirmed that this has been learned by historical knowledge, but by scientific conjecture, on the ground that the earth is suspended within the concavity of the sky, and that it has as much room on the one side of it as on the other: hence they say that the part which is beneath must also be inhabited. But they do not remark that, although it be supposed or scientifically demonstrated that the world is of a round and spherical form, yet it does not follow that the other side of the earth is bare of water; nor even, though it be bare, does it immediately follow that it is peopled. For Scripture, which proves the truth of its historical statements by the accomplishment of its prophecies, gives no false information; and it is too absurd to say, that some men might have taken ship and traversed the whole wide ocean, and crossed from this side of the world to the other, and that thus even the inhabitants of that distant region are descended from that one first man. Wherefore let us seek if we can find the city of God that sojourns on earth among those human races who are catalogued as having been divided into seventy-two nations and as many languages. For it continued down to the deluge and the ark, and is proved to have existed still among the sons of Noah by their blessings, and chiefly in the eldest son Shem; for Japheth received this blessing, that he should dwell in the tents of Shem.”

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120116.htm

    “I just do not see why the speculation is entertained.”

    Because some people, and I am among their number, find it intriguing. If we encounter intelligent species in space the theological questions will be many indeed, however the possibilities would be endless, for good and ill. It is intriguing that the Vatican observatory has joined the search for extra-terrestrial life and participated in a conference on the subject:

    http://www.space.com/25060-vatican-observatory-alien-life-conference.html

  • Read the first paragraphs of this post again.
    What about this- the pope talks about Peter recognizing his fundamental error (which is believing the traditional teaching of the law concerning diet) and Peter’s need to be more open to complete change.
    “Peter understands …: that which has been purified by God cannot be called “profane” by anyone-” “who was I to be able to hinder God?””
    It just seems to me that the pope is identifying with Peter in this story in being the bearer of the new vision of change.
    .
    “And in narrating these facts to the crowd that criticized him…” Again Pope Francis repeated, God has left the guidance of the Church “in the hands of the Holy Spirit.” “The Holy Spirit – he continued – as Jesus said, will teach us everything” and “remind us what Jesus taught us”:
    “The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God in the Church. He keeps the Church going, keeps the Church moving forward. More and more, beyond
    the limits, onwards. The Holy Spirit with His gifts guides the Church. You
    cannot understand the Church of Jesus without this Paraclete, whom the Lord
    sends us for this very reason. And He makes unthinkable choices, but
    unimaginable!
    .
    The first pope relayed his vision and the teaching changed… How does this relate to the statements and vision outlined by this pope?
    Is the Holy Spirit similarly guiding this current pope and we should be getting ready for changes ?

  • I expected this to be an ‘Eye of the Tiber’ lampoonery: but not, this is the new status quo of the Speculator-Pontiff.

    He is just taking a page from Karl Rahner who also eerily began speculating (1981) about other worlds and other alien life forms about which he wondered if they could exist (“Natural Science and Reasonable Faith,” Theological Investigations n. 21), and if so, therefore God must be in relationship with them. (This was a man with too much time on his hands.)

    Rahner: “We would move towards the idea that the material cosmos was a whole, whose meaning and goal is the fulfillment of freedom, will one day be subsumed into the fullness of God’s self-communication to the material and spiritual cosmos, and that this will happen through many histories of freedom which do not only take place on earth” (near the end of Foundations of Christian Faith).

    Which makes it a shame that Barbara Marx Hubbard, Rahner and this pontiff can’t all three fulfill together their Teilhardian search for some other life forms to love, since it seems they were/are all somewhat related in their boredom with the creation that God has presently “disclosed” to us.

  • But on a darker and more mordant note, Don McC. is [as usual] right on target: the Pontiff-Revolutionary is letting us know that more changes in “his” church are on the way, as he, in perfect tune with the Holy Spirit, keep “…the Church going, keep the Church moving forward. More and more, beyond the limits, onwards.”

    I do believe that if PF thought that Chalcedon needed to be changed “beyond the limits, moved forward”, he would just.. change it!

  • “And in narrating these facts to the crowd that criticized him…” Again Pope Francis repeated, God has left the guidance of the Church “in the hands of the Holy Spirit.” “The Holy Spirit – he continued – as Jesus said, will teach us everything” and “remind us what Jesus taught us”:
    “The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God in the Church. He keeps the Church going, keeps the Church moving forward. More and more, beyond
    the limits, onwards. The Holy Spirit with His gifts guides the Church. You
    cannot understand the Church of Jesus without this Paraclete, whom the Lord
    sends us for this very reason. And He makes unthinkable choices, but
    unimaginable!”
    .
    Jesus Christ, in The Real Presence is in the Tabernacle on the altar. Where Jesus Christ is, so is God, the Father and God, the Paraclete. There can be no Holy Spirit in the Church without Jesus Christ and Him, Crucified. Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ. When Pope Francis speaks of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis must absolutely be speaking Jesus Christ’s words as Jesus Christ did when Jesus walked the earth, and Pope Francis must absolutely acknowledge Jesus Christ in the Real Presence.
    .
    Jesus Christ said: “I am with you for all time.”
    .
    Pope Francis’ grasp of the Holy Spirit as though Jesus were not really present is entirely according to his (Pope Francis’) opinion.
    .
    The lake on Mars was found to be alcohol. hicup.
    .
    If aliens come to earth seeking baptism, they are searching for Jesus. Searching for Jesus, the aliens are children of the Father and brothers of Christ.

  • Anzlyne: “The thing is, this pope baptized the child of a known lesbian couple who did not hide the fact that they are not practicing Christians, much less Catholic. To me this indicates he has no respect for the sacrament. We have always had infant baptism based on the faith of the parents. The child can not give assent or accept Jesus and reject the devil and all his pomps, but the parents can. And they are responsible for teaching the child the importance and validity of the indelible mark that has been placed on his soul.”
    .
    We have always had infant baptism based on the faith of the parents and the Godparents, especially the Godparents, who are called to assist the parents in raising the child in the Catholic faith. Evidently Pope Francis chose to sponsor the child himself. Good going.

  • HI Mary ;) Is that tongue-in -cheek?

  • No Anzlyne, but it does leave the infant with all the baggage of his parents’ sins, but that they brought him to baptism is a reasonable doubt. Priests and nuns are not forbidden by canon law to be Godparents, but it is still rather difficult for all concerned.
    The Pope, baptizing the child, does not give his assent to their way of life, only to the innocence and sovereign personhood of the infant.

  • Don, I love your articles on history. On this question your speculation and the head of the Vatican Observatory’s speculation, intriguing as they may seem (I could get more intriguing myself with all kinds of plausible speculations, hey the Mormons do) they are a waste of time. Why? because, unlike the question of people’s inhabiting other regions of the earth yet unexplored, they are not based on ANY reality. Every intelligent person knew and long prior to Columbus, that the earth was not flat, but global. I just do not get the point. Theology has plenty to work with here and now, like defending the deposit of Faith. Aliens? Other intelligent life forms? Material beings undescended from Adam. THAT IS PROBLEMATIC. That makes original sin a local event. And, you have not addressed the problem, except to say that it is “intriguing”. This looney tune Brother who heads the Vatican Observatory must be a Jesuit.

  • Kelso, some people have more tolerance for speculation than others. I assure you that I can speculate and address other issues at the same time. As for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, that question will be resolved eventually as we have more data from the ongoing exploration of space. The Faith will survive and flourish if the answer to that question ultimately proves to be either yes or no, of that I am confident.

    The Vatican interest in whether there is extraterrestrial life pre-dates Pope Francis:
    http://www.universetoday.com/44713/vatican-holds-conference-on-extraterrestrial-life/

    When Pope Leo XIII set up the Vatican observatory in 1891, it was during a period of rampant speculation on extraterrestrial life:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=wUnCAgAAQBAJ&pg=PT514&lpg=PT514&dq=extraterrestrial+life+1890s&source=bl&ots=rs_oEZVyyR&sig=29XR936Osn_k10rKVCcRMI3h5K0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=_XhzU_S1Eo6VyASi8oHoCg&ved=0CEcQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=extraterrestrial%20life%201890s&f=false

    It is a fascinating question, and I expect that speculation on it will grow the farther out we get in space.

  • Nothing wrong with an observatory, per se. But Pope Leo did not even hint that there could be intelligent life on other planets. That is a non-sequitor. Most of the craters on the moon, I read somewhere, were named after Jesuit astronomers. While they were “observing” non-Christians were dying without the Faith. Hardly what Jesus intended for the MISSION.

  • I know you are right Mary about the mercy for the child. But in our knowledge of this event, the pope has only communicated the baptism itself, and has given no catechesis to us or exhortations or catechesis for the lesbian parents, or shown any teaching about how priests who may make the decision to baptize in a similar situation can look to follow-along in the child’s or the parent’s lives.
    No mention about their repentence, reconciliation, effort to live the Faith—nothing. He also does not indicate that he will take godparent responsibility or make sure that someone does. We don’t get to know that the parents want to accept the baptism because of the meaning and power of the sacrament, or if it is a social/cultural enactment.
    If this is a catechesis about mercy, it starts out with a merciful idea, but wouldn’t real catechesis before and after be mercy? Wouldn’t considering his modeling of respect for the teaching for the whole Church, seeing that he is a role model be an act of mercy for all of us. He makes statements by his words and by his behavior that are confusing. Baptism is our first step through the “Narrow Door” the “narrow” implies stress or difficulty. We need help for the journey.

    Matthew 28:19-20 says :”Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

  • As you know my family situation and the looming possibility of two SSA “married” parents adopting a raising a child is around the corner. I might be over=sensitive in some people’s eyes about acting like this is all just fine.

  • Anzlyne: I know of no genuine person who is not heartsick over family and especially children who have not willingly accepted Catholic principles for the peace of their souls. The child is baptized. (I comfort myself knowing that God loves our children more than you or I know how to love them.)

  • Steve Phoenix wrote, “I do believe that if PF thought that Chalcedon needed to be changed “beyond the limits, moved forward”, he would just.. change it!”

    Which is precisely what the Fifth Ecumenical Council did do: in the 8th canon, those are anathematized who say “one Nature incarnate of God the Word” – the Chalcedonian teaching, which they then qualified: unless they “accept it as the Fathers taught, that by a hypostatic union of the Divine nature and the human, one Christ was effected.”

  • Has the Pope been visited? Or is he trying to be hip? The latter invariably fails when a person in an authority position such as his tries. What’s next, an interview in Rolling Stone?

  • CAM: All that stuff in national magazines is made up by the writers. Do not worry yourself except for the gullible who take it for “real”.

  • Well, God made ALL the planets (which means Martians…and Borg, and Klingons, and Vulcans…), so “IF” said Martian (or any other space ET alien) “knew” about Jesus and what entails and everything, so why not?

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