During his weekly audience at St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis broke from Catholic teaching in order to declare that all animals do, in fact, go to heaven.
During his address Francis quoted the apostle Paul as saying, “One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ.” Francis went on to add:
“Paradise is open to all God’s creatures.”
The Pope’s new position is markedly different from that of Pope Benedict XVI who said that non-human animals “are not called to the eternal life.”
In a 2008 sermon Benedict closed the doors of heaven firmly to pets and other animals by saying:
“For other creatures, who are not called to eternity, death just means the end of existence on Earth.”
Traditionally, the Catholic Church has taught that humans have immortal souls, while the souls of animals perish with their bodies.
According to Italian theologian Carlo Molari, “there is no possibility that we will find other creatures in the hereafter.”
Recent comments by Pope Francis had been interpreted as implying that animals may have an existence after they die. However, other commentators thought this interpretation read too much into Pope Francis’s words.
Given his most recent statement, it seems Pope Francis has come to a conclusion concerning the status of animals by affirming that animals have a souls and will go to heaven.
The idea of immortal souls, heaven and hell, and other such superstitious nonsense is silly. Yet it is curious that Francis believes that animals go to heaven, even as some humans are supposedly sent to hell.