Yesterday, some people on the Catholic blogosphere commented on a statement given by Rev Jose Gabriel Funes saying that alien life could exist. The one thing I didn’t see in the news report, and the one thing which should have been reported, is that this is a long-standing tradition and viewpoint (not doctrinal nor dogmatic, but a valid theological opinion) which existed in the Church even before the Reformation. One can find this view, for example, in the works of Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401 – 1464). We can see this in the following quote which pre-supposes their existence:
Therefore, the inhabitants of other stars — of whatever sort these inhabitants might be — bear no comparative relationship to the inhabitants of the earth (istius mundi ). [That is true] even if, with respect to the goal of the universe, that entire region bears to this entire region a certain comparative relationship which is hidden to us — so that in this way the inhabitants of this earth or region bear, through the medium of the whole region, a certain mutual relationship to those other inhabitants. (By comparison, the particular parts of the fingers of a hand bear, through the medium of the hand, a comparative relationship to a food; and the particular parts of the foot [bear], through the medium of the foot, [a comparative relationship] to a hand — so that all [members] are comparatively related to the whole animal.)
Hence, since the entire region is unknown to us, those inhabitants remain altogether unknown.
— Nicholas of Cusa, On Learned Ignorance. trans. Jasper Hopkins (Minneapolis: Arthur J Banning Press, 1990), 119 – 20.