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Close encounters of the Catholic kind

September 17, 2010 |  9:15 am

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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