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Aliens might have souls and could choose to be baptised if humans ever met them, a Vatican scientist said today. The official also dismissed intelligent design as "bad theology" that had been "hijacked" by American creationist fundamentalists.
Guy Consolmagno, who is one of the pope's astronomers, said he would be "delighted" if intelligent life was found among the stars. "But the odds of us finding it, of it being intelligent and us being able to communicate with it – when you add them up it's probably not a practical question."
The pope's astronomer said the Vatican was keen on science and admitted that the church had got it "spectacularly wrong" over its treatment of the 17th century astronomer Galileo Galilei. Galileo confirmed that the Earth went around the sun – and not the other way around – and was charged with heresy in 1633. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest in Tuscany. Only in 1992 did Pope John Paul admit that the church's treatment of Galileo had been a mistake.