The Pope’s chief astronomer Father Jose Funes has confirmed that the Vatican Observatory in Rome believes in life on other planets.

Despite once enforcing the belief that the Earth was the center of the Universe and the sun revolved around our planet instead of vice versa, it appears that the Vatican has now relaxed its view on the role that mankind plays in the universe and acknowledges that further life may exist.

The Vatican Observatory, which has studied the skies on behalf of the Catholic Church since 1582, has said that the discovery of planets, on which it is believed life could exist, in the past number of years has led them to believe that we are not alone.

Writing in the Vatican's daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Fr. Funes said, “Our galaxy contains more than a hundred billion stars.

“Considering the number of exoplanets discovered, it seems that the vast majority of stars in our galaxy, at least potentially, can have planets where life could develop.”

Fr. Jose' G. Funes, SJ writes in L'Osservatore Romano (in Italian) on the discovery of Pianet Kepler 452B

— Vatican Observatory (@VaticanObserv) July 27, 2015

However, despite the acknowledgement that other life may exist, Fr. Funes does not believe that any close encounters of the third kind will be happening soon.

“The discovery of the new planet Kepler 452b revives the idea that contact and, why not, the encounter with extraterrestrial intelligent beings of an alien civilization could happen in the near future.

“It is probable there was life and perhaps a form of intelligent life … I don't think we’ll ever meet a Mr. Spock,” he continues.

“Personally I am very skeptical that this cosmic event actually happens.”

Nor does he believe that there will be any encounter between these other forms of live and a higher power, describing the life on Earth of Jesus Christ as a “unique event” in history and one that has not and will not be repeated. Unfortunately for these other extraterrestrials, Fr. Funes believes that God has a special place in his heart for mankind and Jesus would not have been sent to save them (or they may not sin as we do, either or).

“The discovery of intelligent life does not mean there’s another Jesus,” he continued. “The incarnation of the Son of God is a unique event in the history of humanity of the universe”.

Fr. Funes, who trained as an astronomer in National University of Cordoba, made these comments following the discovery of yet another planet that scientists believe could hold life in July.

Kepler 452b is an Earth-like planet discovered by the Kepler space telescope 1,400 light years away from Earth. The planet is believed to be rocky like Earth and orbits its star within the zone where liquid water may form on the surface. Kepler 452b, however, is 1.5 billion years older than our planet.

#kepler452 has found Brother of earth about 1400 hundred light years away from us..too old to predict a life there??

— Giriraj Singh (@girirajsinghbjp) July 24, 2015

In a huge turnaround for the Catholic Church, Fr. Funes says that believing in aliens does not go against the Bible or Christian doctrine, as it still acknowledges the work of God in creating this other life.

"The Bible is not a scientific book,” he writes. “If we look for scientific responses to our questions in the Bible, we are making a mistake.

“It answers great questions, like ‘what is our role in the Universe?’”

Just 380 years ago, the Church condemned Galileo Galilei for arguing that the Earth was not the center of the universe. In 1992, Pope John Paul II revoked this condemnation and apologized for the Catholic Church’s conviction.

Last year, Pope Francis also revealed that he believes in the Big Bang and in evolution, although he feels that they are both still the work of a divine creator.

Do you believe in life on other planets? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

*Originally published August 2015