A CNN video posted last week that went viral on numerous social media channels claimed Pope Francis believes dogs and other animals can go to heaven. It was just reported the Pontiff’s remarks were taken out of context.
The heartwarming story reported that Pope Francis told a distressed little boy whose dog recently died there was a place in heaven for dogs and all creatures that we share our lives with.
The Pope actually said at his weekly general address at the Vatican, “One day we will see our animals in the eternity of Christ.”
The Vatican’s deputy spokesperson, the Reverend Ciro Benedettini told the new media, “There is a fundamental rule in journalism. That is double-checking, and in this case it was not done.”
So what does Pope Francis believe about dogs and other animals going to heaven?
According to Miguel H. Diaz, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, American theologian, and the John Courtney Murray University Chair in Pubic Service at Loyola University, “Caring for the planet shows his deep concern for all creatures, which includes animals.”
“One recent example was when Pope Francis broke ceremonial rules to let a service dog into a meeting at the Vatican. It was all over the news. Traditionally there are not pets in the Vatican. However, when Pope Francis spotted a man with his seeing-eye dog, he asked to meet with the man and his dog.”
Pope Francis, who took his name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, even gave the yellow Labrador Retriever a special blessing. “We are still watching Pope Francis and learning more about him every day,” said Diaz. “What we do know is that Pope Francis wants us to care for all of God’s creatures. That means all human creatures regardless of faith, gender, race, culture, physical ability, immigration status, political affiliation, and sexual orientation. And of course, among God’s creatures the Pope would include animals. We were given this earth to nurture, and to make it habitable for all creatures. We need to cultivate our dwelling place for all to enjoy, not exploit it.”
According to a New York Times article on the Pope’s statement, conservative Roman Catholic theologians believe animals cannot go to heave because they don’t possess a soul. Other groups, like the Humane Society of the United States and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals welcomed the Pope’s beliefs.