In an interview with the official Vatican Newspaper, the Papal Astronomer stated that intelligent beings from other planets is compatible with Christian faith:
Just as a multiplicity of creatures exists on the Earth, so there could be other creatures, even intelligent ones, created by God," the Argentine Jesuit said. "This does not conflict with our faith, because we cannot set limits on the creative liberty of God.
Besides having a cool title -- "the Extraterrestrial is my brother" -- this article has gotten a lot of press over the last few days. It should not be a surprise, however.
The Catholic Church has come a long ways since they tortured Galileo 375 years ago because he maintained that the Earth rotated around the sun. The Catholic Church has come out against Creationism, Intelligent Design, and has maintained that the "big bang theory of the universe's origins does not conflict with the biblical account of creation."
What is interesting is that Pope Benedict XVI, who many were worried was too conservative and would try to shut down such discussions, is actually encouraging them. In fact the Pope has made exploring the relationship between faith and reason a key aspect of his papacy. This view was stressed in the interview where the Papal Astronomer Funes said science, especially astronomy, does not contradict religion.
I have been a strong believer in evolutional, biological, chemical, and physical evidence for the beginning of life and this planet, solar system, universe. That belief has not shaken my faith, in fact has strengthened it. Surely something much larger (God) started these processes that govern life. And there is no reason to believe that these same processes have not happened elsewhere. I am glad that the Catholic Church agrees.