Sorry the news reports about the Pope’s comment on dog-afterlife got your hopes up. Here I am to dash them: Dogs don’t have souls and when they die, they are gone forever. As with all the bad news I am duty bound to deliver, I say this not to bum you out, but to make you better prepared for reality. Enjoy your pets while they’re alive. Because the series of algorithms from their genetics and outside stimuli that made them unique is going to be gone forever.
But before I get to the meat of this story, I have to get this piece of clipart out of the way:
There… I did it. The most easy, most obvious hack reference to make on this story: use of the 1989 Don Bluth animated feature All Dogs Go To Heaven.
DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE??????
Now that that obligatory nonsense is out of the way, I can go back to crushing your dreams. First the background:
Recently reports claimed that the current hippie Pope said otherwise. but only kindov. Kindov because Catholics believe the Pope is infallible because God talks directly to him so if he says something then its basically God saying it. But that only counts in official Popey Speeches, of which this was not. So…. this is more “the guy who is the Pope” said it than it is “the Pope said…” if you’re following me here. Then the reports clarified that it wasn’t even this hippie Pope who made the claim but rather the Pope from the Hippie 60s…
The original report claimed that a kid was sad about his deceased pet and the Pontiff made him feel better with something silly. From the New York Times:
Citing biblical passages that assert that animals not only go to heaven, but get along with one another when they get there, Francis was quoted by the Italian news media as saying: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”
Theologians cautioned that Francis had spoken casually, not made a doctrinal statement.
The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large of America, the Catholic magazine, said he believed that Francis was at least asserting that “God loves and Christ redeems all of creation,” even though conservative theologians have said paradise is not for animals.
“He said paradise is open to all creatures,” Father Martin said. “That sounds pretty clear to me.”
This is nice to say to children, but not appropriate for adults to believe.
Also, not accurate. As the above text no longer appears on that NY Times link which has been correct-edited (corrected+edited). It now reads:
Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, analyzing the pope’s remarks, concluded he believed animals have a place in the afterlife. It drew an analogy to comforting words that Pope Paul VI was said to have once told a distraught boy whose dog had died: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”
This is PETA nonsense. If animals have souls then killing animals is murder. And Surprise: PETA of course feels validated. From the same NYTimes piece:
Sarah Withrow King, director of Christian outreach and engagement at PETA, one of the most activist anti-slaughterhouse groups, said the pope’s remarks vindicated the biblical portrayal of heaven as peaceful and loving, and could influence eating habits, moving Catholics away from consuming meat — which she asserted had already been happening anyway. “It’s a vegan world, life over death and peace between species,” she said. “I’m not a Catholic historian, but PETA’s motto is that animals aren’t ours, and Christians agree. Animals aren’t ours, they’re God’s.”
Whether the pope’s remarks will prove to be a persuasive new reason not to eat meat, a potentially worrisome development to the multibillion-dollar beef, pork, poultry and seafood industries, remains unclear at best. But they did cause discussion.
Gotta love the hippie bias of the Times rubbing its hands over how multibillion-dollar industries might be negatively affected by this non-news.
How did this fable spread across news sources and social media as fact? ReligionNews.com tracks its spread:
Part of the answer may be the topic of the pope’s talk to the crowd that day, which centered on the End Times and the transformation of all creation into a “new heaven” and a “new earth.” Citing St. Paul in the New Testament, Francis said that is not “the annihilation of the cosmos and of everything around us, but the bringing of all things into the fullness of being.”
The trail of digital bread crumbs then appears to lead to an Italian news report that extended Francis’ discussion of a renewed creation to the wider question of whether animals too will go to heaven, and what previous popes have said.
“One day we will see our pets in the eternity of Christ,” the report quoted Paul VI as telling a disconsolate boy years ago.
The story was titled, somewhat misleadingly: “Paradise for animals? The Pope doesn’t rule it out.” It wasn’t clear which pope the writer meant, however.
The next day, Nov. 27, a story in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera by veteran Vaticanista Gian Guido Vecchi pushed the headline further: “The Pope and pets: ‘Paradise is open to all creatures.’”
Their full following of the false story is worth reading for insight of how news and false news spreads across sources, alone. But the fact is that to our scientific and religious knowledge, animals don’t have souls.
If you think that only dogs have souls then you’re letting your personal attachment to something rewrite your religious doctrine (or dog-ma).
Don’t blame the messenger, kids….