Can Catholics believe in aliens?

Hello,

In todays society, the second one mentions aliens, one is ridiculed for being crazy. Most people considered “great minds” , i.e. stephen hawking, believe that one who denies the existance of ET life is ignorant to the magnitude of our universe. In 2013, scientists say there is estimated to be billions of habitable exo planets. Do we as Catholics believe that humans are the only intellegent, free-willed life form in the universe?, or do we believe that God may have put other sentient beings elsewhere in the universe?
I have been dying to sit down and discuss a number of things with an open minded, intellengent person. I pray that my question has not fallen on deaf ears.

Thank you for your time,
God bless and Mary keep!
-Sean

The Catholic Church has no official teaching on the existence of life outside of the planet Earth. However many theologians in the Church have speculated on the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe:

Alien Life Out There

VATICAN CITY — Extraterrestrials: Do they exist?

The head of the Vatican Observatory thinks there’s a good chance they do, and that their existence would be in keeping with the faith.

In a May 14 interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano May 14, headlined “The Extraterrestrial Is My Brother,” astronomer Jesuit Father José Gabriel Funes said that according to his “scientific judgment,” the existence of extraterrestrials is a “possibility.”

Pope Benedict XVI’s astronomer: the Catholic Church welcomes aliens

The senior Vatican scientist, Brother Guy Consolmagno, said that he would be delighted if we encountered intelligent aliens and would be happy to baptise them…
…He said the characteristics synonymous with having a soul - intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions may not be unique to humans.

Catholics are free to speculate away about whether intelligent life exists out there and what it would mean theologically.

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