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Close encounters of the Catholic kind

Semi-serious question of the day: Does the pope's astronomer (yes, there is such a job) watch "Futurama"? The British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reports that Dr. Guy Consolmagno, the Vatican's senior scientist, has no problem with the notion of extraterrestrial life.

"I’d be delighted if we found life elsewhere and delighted if we found intelligent life elsewhere," he said. "Any entity -- no matter how many tentacles it has -- has a soul." Asked if he would baptize an alien, he replied:  "Only if they asked."

If an alien could be a Christian, why not pope? In which case "Futurama" may be prophetic. The sci-fi cartoon show includes in its cast the Space Pope, a reptilian creature who wears a bishop's miter.

Seriously, Consolmagno's comments belie the idea that the Catholic Church is anti-science. (He also is critical of "intelligent design," calling it bad theology.) The church has come a long way from its dispute with Galileo.

--Michael McGough




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- Pope's star watcher to visit Nasa (12th February 2009) and talk aliens... The Vatican is to go head to head with Nasa over the possibility of life existing anywhere else in the Universe except Earth... Secrets of the Vatican: UFO's in the Ancient Art... Messiah - His Spaceships... Vatican and Planet X:


Why do people always bring up Galileo vs. the Church. The Church like individuals and other institutions evolves, grows and reconsiders past decisions. Even secular historians will tell you that the Catholic Church's dealings with Galileo were very complex: culturally, theologically and politically-all bound by the 17th century world and not 21st century hindsight. Cicero



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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