No Dogs Go To Heaven Under Any Circumstances
December 12, 2014 12:20 PM   Subscribe

There are widespread reports that the Pope now claims that animals go to heaven, based on this article from the illustrious Daily Express newspaper, and in particular this line: “One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ’, Francis quoted Paul as saying. Is this a real quote attributed to Paul, or is the Express making shit up, or is Francis making shit up, or what is happening
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 to Religion & Philosophy (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The original source is 'italian media'. I can't find the italian source, though.
posted by empath at 12:29 PM on December 12, 2014

Here's an italian source.
posted by empath at 12:31 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think this might be, instead of new doctrine, a reference to the common Catholic workaround that, although animals do not have souls, they will be in heaven with you if that would make you happy, since heaven is perfect. So basically any animal that a person ever loved could be waiting in heaven. Or at least this commonly used by parish priests.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:33 PM on December 12, 2014 [14 favorites]

This mildly facetious BusinessInsider article does cite scripture for both sides:
While animal lovers quote Isaiah 11:6, which says that in the life hereafter "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together," others sidestep the inconvenient verse, pointing out that the bible makes it clear in Mark 16:16 that only "he that believes and is baptized shall be saved."
posted by Wretch729 at 12:36 PM on December 12, 2014

James Martin, SJ : Is Heaven Open to Animals?

First of all it’s important to note that this was an apparently off-the-cuff remark from the Pope to a child, and, as Charles Camosy, a professor of theology at Fordham University and author of the book For Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action, noted, it was essentially a pastoral response to a child, and needs to be understood as such. It was also notable that the Vatican did not release the Pope’s official remarks. ... To my mind, however, what the Pope said is pretty clear. He's not trying to obfuscate and, more importantly, he does not say anything to children that he does not believe: Pope Francis believes, in his own heart, that paradise is open to all creatures.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:36 PM on December 12, 2014 [15 favorites]

I am struck by the fact that Francis chose his Pope-o-nym in reference to St. Francis of Assisi, a famous animal lover.
posted by grobstein at 12:38 PM on December 12, 2014 [14 favorites]

Catholic dogs go to heaven. Presbyterian dogs can talk to their minister."

What Snarl Furillo said is pretty much in line with my understanding and makes perfect sense considering MonkeyToes link.
posted by Glenn Grothman at 12:45 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

The NYTimes makes it sound like it was an off-the-cuff comment to a child, so perhaps not in the speech itself cited by empath?
Trying to console a distraught little boy whose dog had died, Francis told him in a recent public appearance on St. Peter’s Square, “Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”
posted by misterbrandt at 12:46 PM on December 12, 2014

The Pope saying something is not the same thing as it being Church doctrine, and certainly is not the same thing as him speaking ex cathedra.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:54 PM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

That Business Insider quote is ridiculous - in context Isaiah 11:6 is allegorical.
posted by winna at 1:29 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for your answers. My impression here is that Francis was making shit up to appease a sad child, which is a noble deed indeed
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:59 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is not a matter as to which the Roman Catholic Church has issued a dogma. This is a matter of theologoumenon (individual religious opinion, not dogma). If pressed, the pope would probably say that the weal of heaven is such that the elect are not going to be looking for their childhood pet. And if he really wanted to do his job in conveying dogma, he would remind that heaven is a temporary, unnatural state that will only last until the end of days.

I do not believe there is a dogma on whether there will be animals on the new earth, either. I do not think this is a matter of apostolic concern.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:09 PM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

Speaking for the animals go to heaven side, the other doctrinal support for this is that animals don't NEED to be saved because animals didn't fall, humans did. So the "only the baptized believers" bit is implicitly about humans (since that's who the gospel writers wrote for). The fall was eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Animals still do not know the difference between good and evil. They're not fallen. They don't need a savior. They go to heaven, to lie around with their former predators and prey.

But yes, it was an unplanned remark, but I wouldn't doubt he believes it. He chose to name himself after someone known for loving animals and in whose name/on whose feast day animals all over the world are blessed.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:09 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Who knows whether animals go to heaven or not? Even within the Bible, there are conflicting scriptures - and the Bible isn't the complete word of God, anyway - obviously.

James Herriott tells of an old lady who was dying, and her old dog was dying at the same time. She asked if Herriott thought dogs went to heaven. He answered that he didn't really know but it was his opinion that if any creature has the ability to give and receive love that's good enough to get them to heaven in his eyes. I'll go along with that.

Animals have been known to sacrifice their own lives to save their humans. What do you think - if the human goes to heaven, should the animal also? Or is the human the only one God wants in his kingdom?

I doubt that Pope Francis was making up anything. He's a very interesting Pope in that he's more inclined to sift the dust and debris out of the Bible and get down to the point of it all instead of just parroting scriptures and hiding behind ritual and incense. I think he's a lot closer to a Pope that Christ would get along with quite well, really, which is wildly refreshing to those of us who have not been indoctrinated in the Catholic Church's dogma. I'm quite certain Pope Francis thinks animals go to heaven.
posted by aryma at 9:36 PM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]

The Pope was specifically citing the apostle Paul, who said, in Romans 8:21: "creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God"
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:21 PM on December 12, 2014

In the 1960's, my brother was about 3 and was distraught that he would go to heaven but not have his tricycle - he loved that tricycle. My mother wrote* to Cardinal Spellman and his reply was that if Billy wanted his tricycle in heaven, then God would provide it. The implication was that once he got there, Billy wouldn't really want it so as long as we use that "if" we are still telling the truth. And really, how do we know what God can do?

* Now that I type this out so many years later, it occurs to me that I don't know if she actually wrote to the Archbishop or if she just told us kids that she did. Either way, this idea that whatever a child might want in heaven would be there, whether it's a dog or a tricycle, is not new with Pope Francis and I don't think it goes beyond Catholic theological understanding.
posted by CathyG at 9:26 AM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: "The news stories were apparently based on a misreading of remarks Pope Francis made at his weekly general audience at the Vatican on Nov. 26 and on a comment that a past pope did make several decades ago."
posted by iviken at 6:11 AM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

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