Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

If an intelligent life form with free will was found elsewhere in the universe, how would that impact your faith group? (i.e. would it change your theology?)

Father Jose Funes was appointed as Director of the Vatican Observatory by Pope Benedict in 2006. Recently interviewed by the Vatican newspaper "LOsservatore Romano", he said if such life forms were ever discovered they would certainly be a part of Gods creation. Just as God created multiple forms of life on earth, he continued that there may be diverse forms throughout the universe. "This is not in contrast with the faith, because we cannot place limits on the creative freedom of God," he said.

Asked about implications that the discovery of alien life might pose for Christian redemption, Father Funes cited the Gospel parable of the shepherd who left his flock of 99 sheep in order to search for the one that was lost. "We who belong to the human race could really be that lost sheep, the sinners who need a pastor," he said.

"God became man in Jesus in order to save us. So if there are also other intelligent beings, it's not a given that they need redemption. They might have remained in full friendship with their creator," he said. Father Funes went on to say that Christ's incarnation and sacrifice was a unique and unrepeatable event. But he said he was sure that, if needed, God's mercy would be offered to aliens, as it was to humans.

He saw no real contradiction between evolutionary science and the Christian faith, as long as evolution does not become an absolute ideology. "As an astronomer, I can say that from the observation of stars and galaxies there emerges a clear evolutionary process,". Fr. Fuentes is convinced that astronomy is a science that can open people's minds and hearts and bring them closer to God, adding the idea that astronomy leads to an atheistic view of the universe is a myth.