Monday, December 15, 2014

Animals in Heaven

Pope Francis gives a weekly speech on Wednesdays. Last week, the news media went into a frenzy, after Pope Francis confirmed that animals go to Heaven. Specifically, he said, "One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all God’s creatures." You'll recognize that the first sentence comes directly from the Bible. It's the part where Saint Paul comforts a boy, after his dog died.

Two problems with this news story:

Problem #1: Saint Paul never said that.
Problem #2: Pope Francis never said that.

You can watch or read the Pope's speech. You can also read the Bible to confirm that the "Saint Paul comforts a crying boy" passage is made up. What we have here is a fake quotation, in a fake quotation.

Still, do animals go to Heaven? The Catholic Church has no official answer on the topic. People easily agree that animal souls are different from human souls, but people disagree if animal souls survive, after they die. I prefer the theory that says it's possible for animals to exist in Heaven, but they are most likely different animals from the ones that died on Earth.

Some people give the sentimental argument that pets must exist in Heaven, because otherwise, they would be sad. That's theologically inaccurate, since it gives more importance to animals than God. If your happiness depends on a pet, then you are not in Heaven. If your happiness depends on God, then you are in Heaven.


Anonymous said...

Animals do go to Heaven because they have souls. I believe that at least most if not all bugs do NOT go to Heaven because they do NOT have souls, at least that's what I believe! :) :) :)

Anonymous said...

^Bugs? Like insects? They're animals too.

Anonymous said...

As for me .. I don't know. I'm not particularly religious. I don't really relish the idea of Heaven being a place where everyone is eager and joyful to spend the rest of all eternity praising and worshiping another entity. The idea of worship itself is just ... well, odd to me.

But if indeed that's what Heaven is, then I agree with your reasoning that it implies that you're giving more importance to animals than to God.

And also I guess animals - earthly animals, at least - can't really worship God, so what place would they have?

Anonymous said...

Animals don't have souls so they can't go to heaven. But I have heard that since God can do anything, he might let you have your pet in heaven. I don't know if it is true or not because obviously I've never been there, and your reasoning behind it is true too, that Heaven is about worshiping God. But if God intends to give us every comfort, then it would make sense for him to let us have our pets.
I don't know because I'm not a theologian and talk about Heaven is always difficult because none of us have been there.

Anonymous said...

Except that my pet exists ...