Head astronomer from the Vatican has expressed he would be willing to baptize aliens that came visiting Earth from the stars “if they asked for it.” Guy Consolmagno, speaking at the British Science Festival declared, without laughter, that he would make sure that aliens would not be turned away if they sought his assistance at becoming full fledged Catholics. The proposal raises several questions about religion and its relationship to extraterrestrial contact.
In a world where aliens landed on the White House Lawn as well as major capitals around the world in an effort to make contact with the human race, we would find every aspect of life changing for us. But would this change happen for the visiting beings just as drastically? If the beings found Earth culture at all intriguing and were able to exercise free will as individuals, would they then find themselves wanting to join an organized religion? And with alien catholics, there would have to be alien baptisms. It sounds almost comical, but the church is apparently taking the prospect very seriously.
An alien baptism would not only be a historical event, but an incredibly diplomatic move on the part of the visitors themselves. By becoming baptized they would essentially be declaring that they are capable of accepting Earth’s culture and had not set out to change human perspective of the world entirely. Instead, they would be attempting to reinforce the staying power of organized religion on the planet by accepting it into their own cultures as well. And many religious individuals would find it a helpful stepping stone toward integration with an alien race of beings. While this integration may be the cause for an interplanetary church to be formed, would the church change or remain largely the same as it is today?
First of all, there would need to be points within new religious texts dealing with the interplanetary phenomenon of space travel. Aliens would have to be included in several different ways in religious services. What if aliens are incapable of consuming grains or wine during communion ceremonies?
Furthermore, if aliens are indoctrinated into the church and even become saints. Why not? It’s comical to us largely because it’s so incredibly different from anything we’ve ever experienced. In fact, if an alien race were more “ascended” spiritually or psychologically, its dedicated members may find it quite easy to live lives that eventually cause them to be canonized and accepted into sainthood. Furthermore, the aliens may revere members of their history that made great sacrifices and manifested “miracles” in their presence that could be accepted and recognized as such by the church. If these alien saints were spoken of on Earth, is it possible the Vatican could have cause to make a pilgrimage to an extraterrestrial homeworld in order to study the history and legends of their culture. And then, with so many going to the alien home world would they not inevitably bring word of their religion with them? Christianity, Buddhism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and any number of other planets may be carried over on vast vessels. And likewise alien religion may eventually make its way here as well.