VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Honoring Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, the Vatican newspaper said the overwhelmingly popular series gave the world a model of peace, tolerance and cooperation at a time of global tensions.

The show — whose first episode aired Sept. 8, 1966 — began during the Cold War.

But “while builders of nuclear fallout shelters made buckets of money, especially in the United States, Star Trek proposed a true model of cooperation,” the article said.

Captain James Kirk and his faithful crew, it said, journeyed to distant galaxies and discovered new civilizations “in order to propose peaceful relations (built) on a foundation of equality.”

Also significant and groundbreaking was the makeup of the crew of the starship Enterprise: an alien, an African-American woman and a Japanese man, it said.

“Today is might seem totally normal, but it’s important to remember that America at the time had recently emerged from a bloody war fought against Japan, too, and it was marked by deep racial tensions.” It also struggled with tense “relations with countries beyond the Iron Curtain, far away just like Vulcan,” the extraterrestrial planet and home of Mr. Spock — who was of mixed human-Vulcan descent.

The newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said the show, which “marked an era,” represents a “totally human star voyage in search of new ways of understanding one another. A voyage that is always needed.”