Can aliens be ordained?

With all of the seriousness about the latest from Rome about excommunications of female priests, I appreciated this question of comic relief from someone on a message board who had heard another recent story from the Vatican. Story goes that a Vatican astronomer released a statement affirming his belief in aliens. Here’s an excerpt about Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes’ statement:

“In an interview published Tuesday by Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Funes said that such a notion “doesn’t contradict our faith” because aliens would still be God’s creatures. The interview was headlined “The extraterrestrial is my brother.” Funes said that ruling out the existence of aliens would be like “putting limits” on God’s creative freedom.

I read this and remembered thinking, “Who thinks about this stuff?” Funes does, evidently. The other interesting part about this is that it has been billed by the media as though it’s an official Vatican statement, rather than the personal theological opinion of this priest astronomer. Now, I don’t know what you all think of his belief. Personally, I have no clue if there is life on other planets and don’t have a strong opinion on that.

I think it is one of those issues for me that would have little consequence on my faith if we found it to be true (or not). I sort of think, hey, that would be cool; weird, yes, but o.k. I celebrate anything and anyone that God creates and love the diversity of God’s creativity. I think there are very few things that I really hang my hat on having to be true. For instance, I really want it to be true that God is loving. I’m pretty sure of it anyhow, but that’s one of the big ones for me. We have some pretty strong beliefs that are important to be true, with great ramifications for our faith as outlined in our Apostle’s Creed. But take, for instance, evolution. I’ve never had a problem with it because I figure however the world was created, God did it. At this point I haven’t heard anything that would be difficult for me and my faith values.

See, I think that is because I know what is important to my foundation. I get concerned when I see what I think of as little issues wrecking someone’s faith. And part of what is behind my stance is simply my personality. I prefer things to be open ended, and leave room for flexibility, growth and change. I don’t like to close off opportunities. If any of you know the Myers Briggs, it’s all about the “P” in my INFP profile for sure! And it’s hard being in religion with this type of personality.

In my first summer of training in hospital chaplaincy I was the only “P” in my group and I seemed to befuddle them. One guy in particular kept asking me to substantiate my beliefs. Uhh, not really my style. But he really did me a favor in retrospect because I had been trying to change myself so I would fit in better. I thought I wasn’t being a minister “right”, and was never able to just affirm that I was being my type of minister! The experience helped me to settle into my personality more, and simply become more comfortable with my style of being and my way of ministering.

So, bring on the aliens. I’ve got room for that.

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About Lauren Ivory

Lauren Ivory is a hospital chaplain working on Chicago's diverse north side. After receiving her Master of Divinity degree at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO she went on for further hospital ministry training at the Cleveland Clinic of Ohio. On the side, she enjoys helping couples plan wedding/commitment ceremonies and works with couples as a certified premarital guidance counselor.

7 thoughts on “Can aliens be ordained?

  1. Intriguing thought… the things some people spend time thinking about! But based on current Vatican arguments, could an alien really say Mass? If we’re going to be so anal as to say that a priest must be male because Jesus was male, why would it somehow be okay if a priest was not human altogether?–I’m an ESTJ!

  2. You’re right, we’d be in quite uncharted territory. What would be the requirements? Would they decide based on genetalia? And if that’s not an area of clarity (I mean, we’re talking extraterrestrials, who knows how they are made!) what would be the next criteria? Reminds me of the question/joke asking how many angels fit on the head of a pin? When we answer that one I think we’ll be much closer to solving the problem of world peace and religious unity don’t you think?

    ESTJ–You’re my opposite! I love that little tool. Helpful stuff. Thanks for the comment.

  3. It reminds me of that “Star Trek: Enterprise” episode where one of the male crew members meets a female alien and ends up pregnant. The episode left me pondering all kinds of questions (beginning with, if the males of that species are the child-bearers, why do the females still have the mammary glands?) And how would the Church redefine gender roles for a race like that? Or would the Church decree that aliens couldn’t be ordained because Jesus appointed only humans as apostles…?

  4. Josh, too funny. I never followed Star Trek but you of course asked a good logic question!

    I wonder too how our church decided that being male was the only criteria required for priesthood and to be in persona Christi. All of the apostles were Jewish, but that didn’t hold as a requirement for candidacy. And they were all probably dark skinned and probably from the area we now call the Middle East (I think, I don’t remember where they were all from) but again, that is not a requirement today.

    And some men are very feminine looking, so its not that a man has to look ‘manly’ to represent Christ. They don’t have to have long hair like we image Jesus to have had. So, it wasn’t about outward appearance then really. No wonder some say it’s just about genitalia. (Don’t worry though (esp. our resident catechists), I know there’s more to the teaching than that, I’m just musing.)

  5. In any case, it’s fun to speculate on how the concept of alien life forms can alter some ideas we take for granted, isn’t it? That’s one of the reasons I enjoy Star Trek! And also C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy. I’d actually been thinking of posting something myself on the alien issue, but you beat me to it!

  6. Whoops, sorry Josh! I didn’t mean to steal your story. Do it anyway! You’d have a whole different perspective to expand upon with your knowledge of C.S. Lewis and Star Trek.

  7. No problem, Lauren! I’m sure I can come up with other ideas.

    Boy, how often do C.S. Lewis and Star Trek get mentioned in the same breath…?

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