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Does the Pope have the moral authority to baptize martians?

Pope Francis says he would baptize aliens.

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The redemption of the human race required a perfect sacrifice by a human; that's why the eternal Son of God became man. Redemption of martians (if they exist and if they are in need of redemption) would presumably require a perfect sacrifice by a martian. So it wouldn't make sense to baptize martians unless one knows that such a sacrifice has been made (which seems very improbable, but who am I to judge). –  Andreas Blass May 13 at 22:56
Please read what the Pope actually said -- just the words -- without trying to read into those words something he did not say. If the Pope did say that he would baptize aliens, then quote the exact words in context (with a link, as links are always useful). Crucial in the linked report is the word irony and the question the Pope actually leaves unanswered. –  Andrew Leach May 14 at 6:50
in the news: examiner.com/article/… –  Geremia Aug 3 at 22:04

4 Answers 4

[In case of necessity], [a]nyone [, even a non-baptized person, with the required intention], can baptize [CIC, can. 861.2.], provided he use water and the correct [Trinitarian baptismal] form[ula]: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." [cf. CCC V. WHO CAN BAPTIZE?, 1256]

In the case of extraterrestrials, there is doubt whether they are human, so a conditional baptism would be required: "If you are human, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

From the Roman Ritual:

A monster or abnormal fetus should in every case be baptized at least with the following expressed condition: If you are a human being, I baptize you, etc. When in doubt as to whether there is one or several persons in the deformed mass, one part is to be baptized absolutely, and the others each with the condition: If you are not baptized, I baptize you, etc.


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Can you please say who specifically requires that form, and the conditional? –  curiousdannii May 21 at 2:52
@curiousdannii: I added a quote from the Roman Ritual. –  Geremia May 21 at 3:41
Wow, that's a great quote. –  curiousdannii May 21 at 3:48
In addition to using water and the correct form, the person who baptizes must also have the intention of baptizing, at least in the vague way of intending to do what the Church does. Pouring water and saying the correct words, if intended as a joke, would not constitute a valid baptism. –  Andreas Blass May 30 at 22:45
@Geremia: 1. Just because anyone can baptize does not mean that they should or that they are authorized. 2. Who or what restricts baptism to humans? 3 What presents the idea that Martians could be human for them to be given conditional baptism? –  FMS Jul 10 at 23:46

In the link you cite, the Pope does not say he would baptize aliens. He is using the idea of Martians wanting to be baptized as an analogy to the strangeness Peter experienced when Gentiles wanted to be baptized in Acts 10. It's just a metaphor.

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@DJCalyworth This is inaccurate. Peter's puzzlement [vs. strangeness] was in the vision he had seen. As soon as the Holy Spirit came down on the listeners, this astonished Peter and led him to say 'Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these ...' [cf. Ac 10] –  FMS Jul 11 at 18:47

Introduction: If the pope had the authority, would he have posed the question?

Answering from Church Tradition.

What guides the Church in every age is to refer back, through the Church Fathers, to the Apostolic Age [Divine public revelation was closed]. cf. St. Vincent of Lerins: The "Vincentian Canon", AD 434:

(3) Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly 'Catholic', as is shown by the very force and meaning of the word, which comprehends everything almost universally. We shall hold to this rule if we follow universality [i.e. oecumenicity], antiquity, and consent. We shall follow universality if we acknowledge that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed; consent, if in antiquity itself we keep following the definitions and opinions of all, or certainly nearly all, bishops and doctors alike.

What comes close to the question asked is the Controversy at Jerusalem [Ac 15:5-7] that led to the Council of Jerusalem [cf. entire Ac 15]. This council is unique among the ancient pre-ecumenical councils in that it is considered by Catholics and Orthodox to be a prototype and forerunner of the later Ecumenical Councils and a key part of Christian ethics.

Thus it appears that the Pope would not have the authority on his own, should such a matter arise. It appears that the matter would have to be settled via a valid Ecumenical Council [vs. say a Synod of Bishops].

Answering from Common Sense.

Moral Authority: A person, group, or organization that has moral authority is trusted to do what is right. cf. Moral - Definition for English-Language Learners from Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

[A] Nation: a large area of land that is controlled by its own government cf. Nation - Definition for English-Language Learners from Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

This is Jesus' mandate to baptize:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” [Mt. 28:18-20].

To answer whether the Pope has moral authority to baptize martians, one would need to examine whether the Pope is right to determine that Martians can be baptized, i.e. the Martians were in need of Baptism in the first place, and that they were covered in Jesus' mandate.

Nations have always been understood as those belonging to this world (Jesus' on earth). If the Pope were to determine that it was right to baptize Martians, assuming that he had established that Martians were in need of baptism [not sure how he would go about establishing that], it would appear that his determination would be in excess of Jesus' mandate as Martians do not belong to the nations.

Finally, if the pope had the authority, he wouldn't have posed the question.

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I'm not sure if that is officially discouraged or not. I personally think they should be combined and don't see why you cannot. One well-rounded answer is better than two competing answers. –  fredsbend Jul 10 at 23:38
@fredsbend maybe you can help me. I was initially the user13987 [see answer in this question] and I have sent requests to merge accounts and nothing has happened. –  FMS Jul 11 at 18:39
I flagged user13987's post for moderator attention already. They will see it eventually. You can also flag posts too and check "other" to get the mods looking at it. –  fredsbend Jul 11 at 18:45
@fredsbend The help and the education is very much appreciated. –  FMS Jul 11 at 18:51
@fredsbend Merge complete. Thank you so much! –  FMS Jul 12 at 0:02

Pope Francis’ Martians are “people living in such unions [same sex] request[ing] a child’s baptism” cf. Instrumentum Laboris 2014, No. 120. It appears that the question was posed for the purpose of setting the stage for the upcoming synod.

This is what the Pope said: "Just as if, for example, tomorrow an expedition of Martians came … green, with long noses and big ears, just like children draw them … and one were to say, ‘I want to be baptized!’. What would happen?" | We are all ostiaries (12 May 2014) | Morning Meditation in the Chapel of the Domus Santae Marthae | Pope Francis.

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Could you add more detail to prove that is what he meant by Martians? –  curiousdannii Jul 6 at 0:41
Welcome to the site! This next is just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites?, and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Jul 6 at 2:28
I like how this answer is actually trying to provide context. –  Affable Geek Jul 6 at 13:51
@AffableGeek, so far there are no indications that Martians exist, so the logical question becomes why the Pope posed that question. My thinking is that he is setting a stage of what he intends to do. Btw user13987 = FMShyanguya [I have requested merge] –  FMS Jul 8 at 19:52
@DavidStratton, I am user13987 and i have requested merge of accounts. –  FMS Jul 8 at 19:54

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