Catholics on Alpha Centauri?

James Boone Dryden @ 14-06-2008

It seems strange that the same religious body that refused to apologize to Galileo until 1992 for claiming that the Earth was not the center of the universe (among other things) would welcome extraterrestrials as brothers. Yes, it’s true, aliens from another planet would be welcomed with open arms by the Catholic church. Without getting overly reactionary, it seems like an interaction like that would slowly begin to bring us a little too close to a Dune-like scenario of futuristic religious practices that have to cope with an increasingly expansive population – and not all on one planet.

How does one send out missionaries to the other planets in the universe? What would that do to intergalactic politics if there are aliens who have no sense of our history running around as Catholics? It seems like a very perplexing possibility, indeed. The Catholic church assures us, though, that

“Since God created the universe, theologians say, he would have created aliens, too. And far from being weakened by contact, Christianity would adapt. Its doctrines would be interpreted anew, the aliens greeted with open — and not necessarily Bible-bearing — arms.”

Modernity brings a lot of things to people, but it seems like a strange change for a religion as large as the Catholic church to express such a new theological stance. Perhaps it’s a good sign of their adaptability; perhaps it’s just a sign of their desire to convert the whole of existence. Who knows? It’s certainly an interesting topic for discussion.