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he Moon Bishop, or Bishop John Noonan as he is currently known, is actually the outcome of a murky regulation that was outlined in the 1917 Code of Canon Law. According to the rule, any newly discovered territory is added to the diocese from where the expedition set out.

As a result, the Diocese of Orlando, from whence Apollo 11 was launched, was given control of the “Moon” region. William Donald Borders was the first Moon Bishop.

The 1917 Code of Canon Law was the first official codification of canon law in the Catholic Church. It was issued by Pope Benedict XV and went into effect on May 27, 1918. It replaced the previous collections of ecclesiastical laws, which had been in use since the 16th century.

The code consisted of 1752 canons, divided into seven books, and regulated the governance and administration of the Church, as well as the rights and duties of Catholics. It remained in effect until it was replaced by the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which is currently in use.

If this obscure statute creating the office of Moon Bishop doesn’t excite you, the real Pope was also dissatisfied. Bishop Borders, following the moon mission, had an audience with Pope Paul VI, in which he reportedly told him “you know, Holy Father, I am the bishop of the Moon”. The Pope was initially perplexed when Borders explained the situation.

Of course, the bishop’s job is unaffected by his title. If there is no one to exercise jurisdiction over, it “means nothing, “according to Father John Giel, the Diocese of Orlando’s chancellor for canonical affairs.

You may think that Religion does not take much interest in space, but you are wrong. It is imperative to mention that priests of various religions were considered some of the smartest people before medieval times.

The front page of the Florida Catholic July 25, 1969, included extensive coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. (Source: Florida Catholic)

On July 25, 1969, the Florida Catholic newspaper ran a headline that said, “Religious leaders welcome landing of men on moon.” On the top page, a picture of then-Bishop Borders was taken as he was touring the launch pads the night before Apollo 11, the first mission to land on the moon, took off on July 16. The enormous Saturn V rocket is visible behind the bishop and New York Cardinal Terrence Cooke as they stand close to the launch site.

The “ad limina apostolorum,” or “to the threshold of the apostles (Peter and Paul)” meeting, which diocesan bishops are required to hold every five years to greet the pope and discuss issues with the heads of various Vatican departments, appears to have been where Bishop Borders took things a step further. The pope, who avidly followed the moon expedition on television, was seen peering through a telescope at the moon at the Vatican Observatory, which is close to the pope’s vacation residence, Castel Gandolfo.

Pope Paul VI views the moon through the viewfinder of the Schmidt telescope at the time of the first landing on the moon, July 20, 1969. This print was photographed on display at the Vatican observatory in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sept. 28, 2018. (Source: CNS)

4,801 square miles, or the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is a respectable size. Prior to being appointed to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Borders served as the first bishop of the Diocese of Orlando, which was founded in 1968 and includes 13 counties and 9,611 square miles of central Florida.

Bennett stated that in addition to overseeing 13 counties, the bishop of the moon was also responsible for Cape Canaveral, which served as the Apollo lunar mission’s launchpad. Cape Canaveral is located in Brevard County and is a member of the Diocese of Orlando. The Diocese of Orlando would grow by more than 14.6 million square miles as a result, making it the biggest diocese in all of known space.

This is a very different type of crusade, could argue a galactical one.

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