The following comes from a Dec. 16 report in the Oakland diocese Catholic Voice.

It’s “very likely there is intelligent life” elsewhere in the universe, a Vatican Observatory scientist told an annual gathering of Catholic academics Nov. 21.

The scientist, the Rev. William Stoeger, SJ, an astrophysicist on the staff of the Vatican Observatory, was the main speaker at an annual dinner of about 120 Catholic scholars hosted by the bishop of Oakland.

Scientists are now considering “pre-big bang physics,” Father Stoeger said. The universe is 14 billion light-years in any direction, he said, and with 300 billion galaxies in the observable universe, he suggested there could be one species of intelligent life per galaxy.

Creation is not just “an event back there,” Father Stoeger said. Everything is created by God and that there are intelligent beings leads us to believe in consciousness, imagination and mysteries.

Father Stoeger attended graduate school at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley and was a deacon at Newman Hall.

Oakland Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, recognized Bishop Emeritus John Cummins on his 60th year as a priest. Bishop Cummins organized the dinner 37 years ago to bring together the faculties of the various area schools of higher learning.

Bishop Barber also recognized Robert Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley from 2004 to 2013 and a Newman Hall parishioner, with the Diocesan Medal of Merit, awarded to someone who has performed extraordinary service to the Church.

Birgeneau noted the social, intellectual and special role of the religious in the Church, explaining how a priest had given him advice and assistance when he was a 15 year old.

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