The Catholic Church has a sordid history with science, from its maltreatment of Galileo and Giordano Bruno to today’s geocentric seminars headed by Robert Sungenis and the rest of the gang at Catholic Apologetics International.
But according to one conspiracy theory, the Church has embraced the science of astronomy, albeit for malevolent purposes. The hypothesis holds that Rome employs a telescope whose aim is to find aliens that will help the Pope and his minions subdue all Earthlings. The one-sixth of world’s population that the Vatican already lords over is apparently insufficient. The telescope is named LUCIFER, put in all caps as if the name by itself wasn’t enough of a giveaway.
Like the weather-control theory that centers on another all-cap evil, HAARP, the LUCIFER theory takes a few unrelated facts that are true in isolation, then adds massive untruths and eventually arrives at an untenable, easily-disproved conclusion.
The Catholic Church does have a history of dabbling in astronomy. In the 16th Century, it looked to the skies to ensure that Easter was being observed at the correct time. And they do maintain the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) at an international facility in Arizona.
It is the nearby Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) that theorists insist the Catholic Church is using to arrange an apocalyptic rendezvous with E.T. But the Vatican has no connection to the LBT, which actually refers to two side-by-side telescopes. A pair of instruments that do infrared spectroscopy in conjunction with the telescopes are dubbed LUCI1 and LUCI2. LUCI stands for “LBT Utility Camera in the Infrared,” and these spectroscopic measurement tools were built by a German consortium that has no relation to the Vatican.
The LUCI instruments serve as the source for the name LUCIFER. They were originally named this as a tongue-in-cheek, not-quite-acronym for the beyond-wordy “Large Binocular Telescope Near-infrared Spectroscopic Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research.”
Beyond the issue of which telescope the Vatican operates is the matter of what the instrument’s capabilities are. Let’s consider the process in reverse. If a search for alien life were undertaken by exoplanet beings who honed in on Earth, these creatures would notice a red edge created by chlorophyll. Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning explains that chlorophyll “creates a very obvious jump in the spectrum right around the 700 nanometer wavelength. At the red end of the visible spectrum, chlorophyll appears almost totally black, but then at slightly longer wavelengths in the infrared, it becomes virtually transparent. We call this sudden cliff in the spectrum the ‘red edge.’”
However, even if such an edge were to emanate from an exoplanet, no telescopes owned by the Catholic Church or any other Earthly entity are powerful enough to see it.
In summary: There has never been a telescope called LUCIFER; The LUCI instruments are non-telescopes with no relation to the Vatican; no optical telescopes on Earth are capable of detecting evidence of alien civilizations; and the VATT and LBT telescopes are unconnected and housed in separate locations.
The theory which rejects all those truths stems from the creative minds of evangelicals Tom Horn and Cris Putnam. They outlined their notions of a Rome-Ming alliance in a book with the bewildering title, Exo-Vaticana: Petrus Romanus, Project L.U.C.I.F.E.R. and the Vatican’s Astonishing Plan for the Arrival of an Alien Savior. In this work, the crusading Christian duo claim the Catholic Church plans to recruit a savior from outer space and establish him/her/it as the leader of a New World Order. The book also includes a failed prophecy that this alien’s home planet would be revealed by astronomers in 2013. Additionally, there is the impossible-to-disprove assertion that the telescope’s location serves as an interdimensional portal through which aliens come to and fro Earth.
Another claim, again without evidence but again impossible to disprove, is that the giants referenced in Genesis 6 are demons with whom the Catholic Church is attempting to channel to help with this conquest. Rome’s plan is to unite all mankind under the Pope, peaceably at first, and then by force using this conscripted demon/alien army.
While Horn and Putnam attempt a 21st Century sci-fi twist on their anti-Catholic bigotry, they are tapping into what was once a common theme among evangelicals: That Catholics are confused Christians at best and Satan’s soldiers at worst. Those ideas have largely faded as the line between church and state has become increasingly blurred. We have reached a point where it is de riguer for Republican presidential candidates to declare that God told them to run, while conservative Christians conflate equality with persecution whenever they are asked to follow the same laws and rules as everyone else.
Growing a base this powerful and entitled would have failed if its leaders had continued to shun the country’s 50 million Catholics. This switch has transformed what had once been the robust anti-Catholic industry into a niche market, and books and videos by the likes of Horn and Putnam are reserved for obscure corners of the publishing and online worlds. If only that could be the fate for 99 44⁄100 percent of conspiracy theories.