We've posted before about the Pope's chief astronomer Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes and his statements on possible extraterrestrial life. (ETs "don't contradict our faith," he has said.) The Vatican recently hosted a conference on the topic of astrobiology — the study of life in the universe — where a group of international scientists from a variety of fields discussed the possibility of alien life. From the Associated Press:
Funes said the possibility of alien life raises "many philosophical and theological implications" but added that the gathering was mainly focused on the scientific perspective and how different disciplines can be used to explore the issue.
Chris Impey, an astronomy professor at the University of Arizona, said it was appropriate that the Vatican would host such a meeting.
"Both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe," he told a news conference Tuesday. "There is a rich middle ground for dialogue between the practitioners of astrobiology and those who seek to understand the meaning of our existence in a biological universe…"
The Church of Rome's views have shifted radically through the centuries since Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1600 for speculating, among other ideas, that other worlds could be inhabited.