Summary: Msgr. Balducci is one of the best-known and most respected Italian theologians. We publish his paper for the first time in an English translation. It is indeed noteworthy, since it is the very first detailed statement of a senior Roman Catholic theologian and Curia member on the UFO phenomenon. More than that, it demonstrates the openness of the Roman Catholic church in this question and can be considered the first ever complex positive statement regarding the UFO/ET reality from the point of view of a major world religion - with its over 1 Billion faithful, the RC Church is indeed the largest religious community on Earth.
“The Lord certainly did not limit His glory to this small Earth. On other planets other beings exist who did not sin and fall as we did."
- St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968), canonized June 16, 2002
Msgr. Balducci is one of the best-known and most respected Italian theologians. The Roman priest and Curia member served the Holy See as a diplomat and member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples ("Propaganda Fide"). He is an expert on demonology and parapsychology, was for several years the exorcist of the diocese of Rome, the Pope’s diocese. Msgr. Balducci wrote several books, including the bestseller "Il Diavolo" (the Devil) which reached 14 print runs in the hardcover edition. Furthermore he is a regular guest in the Italian State TV (Rai Due), where he made several statements on the UFO phenomenon since 1995. He spoke on the UFO congresses in Acapulco and San Marino. We publish his paper for the first time in an English translation. It is indeed noteworthy, since it is the very first detailed statement of a senior Roman Catholic theologian and Curia member on the UFO phenomenon. More than that, it demonstrates the openness of the Roman Catholic church in this question and can be considered the first ever complex positive statement regarding the UFO/ET reality from the point of view of a major world religion - with its over 1 Billion faithful, the RC Church is indeed the largest religious community on Earth. Note that since the first Balducci-statement also H.H., the Dalai Lama (for Tibetan Buddhism), several Jewish rabbis in Israel and, in 2001, the Muslim authorities of Turkey followed with positive statements on this subject. Therefore it can be said that UFOs are not only “no problem” for the largest Christian church, but also for other world religions.
-I use the acronym UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) in the wider sense as a synonym for the existence of extraterrestrial beings;
-I participate in this debate under the premise that the described UFO phenomena are real. This is not in contradiction to the Christian Faith, a position to which most theologians would agree.
I. UFOs: THERE MUST BE SOMETHING TRUE ABOUT THEM - everybody must come to this conclusion who approaches the question of extraterrestrial life with similar individual, social and religious structures as we developed them, with reason and common sense.
There is a great and constantly growing number of eyewitness testimony about the so-called "flying saucers", spacecraft and Extraterrestrials. Many of these eyewitnesses are highly qualified observers with a profound education, who did not believe in them before they had their personal encounter. On November 4, 1988, Mrs. Fioschini, TV host of the program "Misteri" on RAI Due, stated: "There are thousands of persons in all the world who claim that they saw a UFO at least once, and many even claim a contact with their crews." On this base it can no longer be denied that there is indeed something true about them. Any scepticism would be completely unjustified und unreasonable! Of course some eyewitness reports are based on imagination, hallucination or external influence. In other instances they were caused by atmospheric phenomena, lenticular clouds or ball lightning. Again others turned out to be state-of-the-art aircraft types of the Americans and Russians, tested during the Cold War. Already during World War II, sighted UFOs were thought to be the secret weapon of the enemy. But all this is not enough to explain a great part of the eyewitness testimony and the UFO phenomenon itself. Even the most careful investigation can only reduce the number of real cases and sift the chaff from the wheat, but can never explain them all satisfactorily, as the past has taught us.
In many countries professional or semi-professional organizations investigate UFO sightings in cooperation with scientists and experts to separate explainable from unidentifiable cases. In France there is the governmental SEPRA, in Italy the "National Ufological Center" CUN, which exists for nearly 40 years and is headed by Dr. Roberto Pinotti, or, since 5 years, the CIFAS (Council of International Federation of Advanced Studies), founded by Airforce General Salvatore Marcheletti, which investigates the position of man in space.
Let me add one more important point: The general a priori-scepticism, the systematic, total denial, damages, even destroys the basic value of the human testimony with grave and incalculable consequences, since it is indeed the fundament of human society, if individual, social or religious. Of course there is always one or the other exemption, there are errors and lies, but generally all our life is based on what we learned from others. It is unthinkable to live without this basic confidence, unimaginable are the consequences of a general negation of the human experience on the individual, social and religious life. It would destroy the very fundament of any human society!
This applies to the religious life, too. Indeed the Christian religion is based on the testimony of humans who became witnesses of God´s revelation in historical events. In 1937, the theologian and Jesuit Father Herbert Thurston stated: "On one point of the logic view the Christian accepts the miracle reports of the Gospels ... our complete apologetic concept bases on the trust in the veracity of the Gospels." (La Chiesa e lo Spiritismo, Milano 1937, o.179). Therefore is "the systematic demolition and defamation of the human testimony, the simple reduction on dates and facts, contradictory to our Faith in the historicity of the Gospels and therefore indirectly to the faith in the Christian revelation." (p. 157)
II. THEOLOGICAL AND BIBLICAL REMARKS ABOUT THE INHABITABILITY OF OTHER PLANETS
Let me state very clearly: We can exclude that angels use spaceships. As purely spiritual beings, angels can project themselves at any place they want to reach and, in rare instances, when they want to reveal themselves, take a visible form without any difficulty. The same is certain for the defunct. When the Holy Virgin wants to reveal Herself to Mankind (as it happened in rare, well-documented cases) she chose forms in which She can express Her love and care as a mother and Her motherly compassion with us. We don´t even have to waste a thought on the devil and his demons, who still kept their angelic nature, being fallen angels and therefore also purely spiritual beings, since they are limited in their activity by God and therefore not able to bring all their hatred to us. "If the devil would take the initiative, not a single living being would remain on Earth", St. Augustine wrote. (ML37, 1246). St. Bonaventura added: "The cruelty of the demon is so immense that he could swallow us any moment, if we were not under divine protection." ("Diaeta ssalutis", tit.7,c.1, Verona 1748, S.183)
When we talk about "Extraterrestrials", we refer to humanoid beings which are, like us, of both, a spiritual and a material nature, a physical body (for which to move they indeed need spacecraft), although in their case the relationship between mind and matter might be a different one than in our case. For this, we do not have scientific evidence yet, although we are approaching this question slowly thanks to an increasing number of careful studies and research. In regards to the biblical and theological aspect of this question, let me state:
1. It is very well possible that other inhabited planets exist. We do not find any direct reference to extraterrestrial life in the Bible, but it neither excludes their existence. Since God's wisdom and omnipotence has no limits and is infinite indeed, this possibility doubtlessly exists.
2. The existence of other inhabited planets is highly probable. The distance between the angels, purely spiritual beings, and us, beings of spirit and matter, body and soul is too large. Our soul cannot act without the body, its unalterable means, which through its passions and sinfulness influences the soul so deeply that man becomes unstable and rather tends toward the bad than towards the good.
Therefore it is highly probable that in between, between us and the angels, another life form exists, namely beings which still have a physical body but one which is more perfect than ours and influences the soul less in its intelligent acts and intentions. This assumption is confirmed by the ancient principle defined by Lucrezio Caro as "Natura non favit saltus" (The Nature makes no jumps, see "De rerum natura"), still quoted by theologians.
We find another thought regarding the infinity of the creation and the Glory of God in Psalm 18 (19): "The heavens declare the glory of God". Only man can consciously worship God, because of his free will and intelligence. Therefore several theologians consider it not only possible but very probable that out there in Space, unreachable for our scientific instruments, other beings exist who recognize and venerate God since they realized this as the reason and meaning of their world and the creation itself.
The Jesuit Father P. Domenico Grasso, a theologian of the Pontifical University "Gregoriana" in Rome, stated: "Why should all the perfection, God gave so richly to the Universe, be hidden and should not declare His glory? Who writes a book and is sure that it will never be read? Who paints a painting and hides it thereafter, and nobody can see it?". Then he quotes the German theologian Joseph Pohle, who wrote in his book of 1904 ("Die Sternenwelt und ihre Bewohner" - "The celestial realms and their inhabitants", Cologne 1904, p. 457): "It seems to be the purpose of the Universe that the celestial bodies are inhabited by beings who reflect the glory of God in the beauty of their bodies and worlds as man does, in a limited way, in his world." But they are no angels, Father Grasso added, since angels are purely spiritual beings and can perceive matter only indirectly, just as we can only indirectly perceive the world of the spirit.
3.The inhabitability of other planets is not only possible and probable, but also desirable. In the future, even in a far-distant-one, their possible inhabitants, if they are indeed superior to us, can help and support us in our spiritual development. In this way, which we cannot prove, they might have helped and protected us already in the past.
If indeed intelligent beings exist on other planets, their existence might very well be correlated with the Salvation through Christ. It is certain that Christ is the center and head of the creation or universe, as St. Paul already stated (Col. 1, 16-17). Therefore there exists no world which is not related to Him. As the Word Incarnate, He has, as the Bible confirms, an influence on every possible inhabited planet. To quote the Apostle: "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on Earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things and in Him all things consist... For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell. And by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." (Col. 1, 16-20
The Church celebrates the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year (in November) as the Feast of Christ the King, and in its liturgy Christ is clearly defined as the king of the Universe, remembering the universality of His kingdom, which is also expressed in the daily Mass.
III. SOME CONFIRMING STATEMENTS
There exist several interesting statements on the inhabitability of other worlds by lay scientists, theologians or servants of God which already qualified for a process of beatification or canonization. Beginning with the laymen, let me quote the great French scientist Charles Richter (1850-1935), the founder of Metapsychics (today called Parapsychology). He was a materialist. In 1922, in his "Traite de Metapsychique", he stated: "Do we have any right to claim, just because of our limited senses and our mistaken intelligence, that man is the only intelligent being in this immense cosmos? ... That other intelligences, different from us, exist, is not only possible but extremely probable. It is absurd to claim that we are the only intelligence in nature... the existence of these beings cannot be proven, but the probability of their existence is evident."
Among the theologians I want to refer to, are:
1. Cardinal Nikolaus Cusanus (1401-1464). He stated: "We are not authorized to exclude that on another star beings exist which are completely different from us."
2. The Jesuit Father and astronomer Fr. Angelo Secchi (1818-1876) wrote: "It is absurd to claim that the worlds surrounding us are large, uninhabited worlds and that the meaning of the universe lies just in our small, inhabited planet."
3. The famous Dominican preacher Jacques-Marie-Louis Monsabre (1827-1907) referred to the principle "Natura non facit saltus" when he claimed that other intelligent beings besides men and angels exist.
4. The already quoted English Jesuit Father Herbert Thurston wrote: "Who can claim that there are no other intelligent beings besides angels, demons and men in the Universe? I do not intend to confirm the possibility I indicated in my question as a fact, but I ask: Who can be sure about it."
Of the servants of God either qualified for a beatification or just canonized, I only want to refer:
1. The Salesian Father and Servant of God Don Andrea Beltrami (1870-1897) who prayed also for the inhabitants of other planets. Of the 16 booklets he wrote, one is said to deal with this topic; unfortunately they were not published yet by the Father Postulator of his cause.
2. The second, with whom I want to close this paper, is the great stigmatized Capucchin Padre Pio, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 2, 1999 and canonized on June 16, 2002. From St. Fr. Pio, the following dialogue is documented and officially published by the Cappuchin Order:
Question: Padre, some claim that there are creatures of God on other planets, too.
Answer: "What else? Do you think they don’t exist and that God's omnipotence is limited to this small planet Earth? What else? Do you think there are no other beings who love the Lord?"
Question: Padre, I think the Earth is nothing compared to other planets and stars.
Answer: "Exactly! Yes, and we Earthlings are nothing, too. The Lord certainly did not limit His glory to this small Earth. On other planets other beings exist who did not sin and fall as we did."
(Don Nello Castello: Cosi parlo P.Pio, Vicenza 1974)
Vatican Astronomer Fr. George Coyne, S.J.: “It is madness to believe man is alone”
Question: “Holy Father, are there any aliens?”
Answer: “Always remember: They are children of God as we are…”
H.H. Pope John Paul II. when asked by a child during his visit to the parish of “S. Innocenzo I. Papa e S. Guido Vescovo” in the north of Rome, November 28, 1999.
Text © 1999/2002 by Msgr. Corrado Balducci, Rome
Translation © 2002 by Michael Hesemann