Guy Consolmagno, who is one of the pope's astronomers, said he would be "delighted" if intelligent life was found among the stars...Photo credit David Sillitoe/Guardian.
...he said that the traditional definition of a soul was to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions. "Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul." Would he baptise an alien? "Only if they asked."
...Responding to Hawking's recent comments that the laws of physics removed the need for God, Consolmagno said: "Steven Hawking is a brilliant physicist and when it comes to theology I can say he's a brilliant physicist."
He dismissed the ideas of intelligent design – a pseudoscientific version of creationism. "The word has been hijacked by a narrow group of creationist fundamentalists in America to mean something it didn't originally mean at all.
The pope's astronomer said the Vatican was keen on science and admitted that the church had got it "spectacularly wrong" over its treatment of the 17th century astronomer Galileo Galilei.