Sad Dogma: Pope Francis Did Not Say All Dogs Go to Heaven

pope francis animalsIf your friends follow the PRNewserverse (and why shouldn’t they), everyone would tell you that Pope Francis is the patron saint of PR.

For the most part, the guy has held the Midas Touch in those ruby red shoes and golden scepter of his since he took the helm of the Holy See. Lately, he has gone off his granola path by claiming evolution was cool and demoting a Cardinal for not respecting his ‘aut-thor-i-tay.’

However, he quickly won back some headlines by claiming all animals have a place in heaven.

Lovers of our four-legged friends across the Catholic Church were giddy with comfort and expectation. And then, word came out this week that he didn’t quite say that. 

Last month during his weekly address, it was reported that Pope Francis alluded to the idea that the Pearly Gates had a doggy door. There’s St. Peter welcoming the souls home — Mark, Daniel, Cindy, Billy…and little Fido.

I mean, it makes total sense seeing how Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio took his name ‘Francis’ after the patron saint of animals. The guy loves animals. We love animals. And therefore, God must love animals.

Only, one small thing: The Pope never said it or implied it (at least not this one), according to Archivio Storico and interpreted by Reuters.

Pope Francis, talking to a distraught boy whose pet had died, declared there was a place in heaven for the creatures we share our lives with. His comment was reported this week by many news media outside Italy, with dozens of articles in the United States. It was veritable catnip to social media.

pope francis more animalsThat was the back story of the situation. People love the idea of seeing Fluffy or Tanner in heaven (not so much with that pet tarantula, just sayin’). Perhaps, there was a little too much inference and hope going on.

Evidently, whatever source broke and published the story based that theology on a quote from a different Pontiff — Pope Paul VI, who died in 1978He is the guy that said, “one day we will see our animals in the eternity of Christ.”

“There is a fundamental rule in journalism. That is double-checking, and in this case it was not done,” the Vatican’s deputy spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini, said on Saturday, when asked about how the media ran with the story.

What source didn’t follow that fundamental rule in journalism? The New York TimesHaven’t we been down this not checking things before with them?

Asked about the mistake, a spokeswoman for the Times quoted Michael Slackman, managing editor of international news, as saying, “The correction in The Times notes that the specific content and wording were wrong in the article. However, the pope did in fact make comments suggesting heaven is open to animals.”

Don’t fret PETA, and others of you interested, there’s still hope. I’m no Il Papa, but here’s “one more chance”:

Righteousness will be his belt, and faithfulness, the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling, together; and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

~Isaiah 11:5-9 (NIV)

I’ll wait for Pope Francis, or even St. Francis, to make that call but where in the world would a wolf or a lion lay down with a lamb? Two places: A dinner table or somewhere in heaven. If that were at a zoo, someone would become dinner.


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