Vatican rules out another Jesus Christ, but extraterrestrial life won't contradict Bible

An artistic illustration compares Earth (left) to a planet beyond the solar system that is a close match to Earth, called Kepler-452b in this NASA image released on July 23, 2015.Reuters/NASA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration recently discovered a planet outside our solar system that has attributes very similar to those of Earth.

Moreover, scientists have estimated that there are a billion Earths in our own Milky Way galaxy alone—1 billion rocky planets each approximately the size of Earth and orbiting a star similar to our sun in the "habitable zone" of its own solar system where liquid water is also present at the surface.

This raises the question on whether intelligent, extraterrestrial life exists in other worlds. And if it does, if there are human-like creatures in other planets, does this mean that they will also have their own God, or their own version of Jesus?

For Argentinean Jesuit Father José Gabriel Funes, who heads the Vatican's robust astronomy programme, another Jesus from outer space in unimaginable.

"The discovery of intelligent life does not mean there's another Jesus. The incarnation of the son of God is a unique event in the history of humanity, of the universe," Funes said.

However, he said the possible discovery of alien life will not contradict teachings in the Bible.

"Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on Earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God. This is not in contrast with our faith because we can't put limits on God's creative freedom," the Jesuit priest said.

He said aliens, if they indeed exist, are also God's creations, and should be considered our brothers and sisters.

"To say it as St. Francis [of Assisi], if we consider some earthly creatures as 'brother' and 'sister,' why couldn't we also talk of an 'extraterrestrial brother'? He would also belong to creation," Funes explained.

Last year, Pope Francis said even aliens can seek baptism from the Roman Catholic Church.

"If, for example, tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here... Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them... And one says, 'But I want to be baptised!' What would happen?" the Pope asked.

"When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, 'No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let's do it this way'," he added.

In fact, the Vatican maintains a space observatory in Italy at Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope has a summer villa. It also has a telescope stationed in Arizona.