- (Photo: Reuters/Tony Gentile)
Pope Francis spent some time during Mass at the Vatican on Monday talking about alien life forms, and suggested that Martians, should they ever visit Earth, would be welcome to be baptized as well.
"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 baptized!' What would happen?" the Roman Catholic Church leader theorized, as reported by Vatican Radio.
In his speech focused on the question "Who are we to close the doors to the Holy Spirit?" he said that baptism is open to everyone, and reminded the audience of the words of Peter:
"If then God gave them the same gift He gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?"
Francis continued: "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'... and Peter in that first diocese – the first diocese was Antioch – makes this decision: 'Who am I to admit impediments?' A nice word for bishops, for priests and for Christians. Who are we to close doors? In the early Church, even today, there is the ministry of the ostiary [usher]. And what did the ostiary do? He opened the door, received the people, allowed them to pass. But it was never the ministry of the closed door, never."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines baptism as "the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments." It adds that people are freed from sin and reborn to God through baptism, and says that the practice is "the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."
Last month, Francis declared Popes John Paul II and John XXIII as saints of the Roman Catholic church, in a mass celebration attended by close to half a million people.
Delegates from over 100 countries attended the ceremony, including more than 20 Heads of State. Another 300,000 people are said to have watched the event on screens throughout Rome.
"They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother," Francis said about his predecessors.