Ninety percent of internet news media jumped on the bandwagon (including this site) to say that Pope Francis stated that animals go to heaven. He didn’t, we are told. The source of my version was the respected, Times newspaper.
The remaining 10% are now saying that Pope Francis did not say this and that it is a fiction which has arisen out of a confused situation regarding hyped up journalism.
The first thing I’d like to say is this. It doesn’t matter whether Pope Paul Francis said that animals go to heaven or not because we, the people, know that they do – if there, actually, is a heaven. Also, if there is such a thing as a soul, then animals are as entitled to it as humans. It a complete fallacy to argue that animals are different in respect of these matters, in part, because human beings are animals; the human animal.
Back to the confusion about what Pope Paul said or didn’t say. One reason why Pope Francis was attributed with this off-the-cuff saying is because he is prone to making off-the-cuff sayings even if they go against Conservative Catholicism and the rules of the religion.
It has been suggested that the saying, “Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” was said by Pope Paul VI who died in 1978. It appears that Pope Francis did not repeat the words during a public audience delivered on November 26. What he did talk to the crowd about on that day was a topic regarding the end of the world and the transformation of all creatures into a new heaven. Pope Francis apparently said that it is not “the annihilation of the cosmos and of everything around us, but the beginning of all things into the fullness of being.”
It was seen that the reference to “all things” is an indirect reference to animals as well as humans.
This appears to have been picked up by an Italian newspaper which embellished what the Pope had said and discussed the question of whether animals go to heaven.
This Italian newspaper muddied the topic by asking the question “Paradise animals?” followed by the statement that the Pope does not rule it out without specifying which Pope they were referring to. This appears to be the beginning of the story because it was picked up by other newspapers and further embellished and rewriting history.
The New York Times issued a correction to its Friday story stating that Pope Francis said: “Holy Scripture teachers us that the fulfilment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us.” The journalist who wrote the article came to the conclusion that what was said meant that the Pope believed that animals went to heaven.
In short, and in conclusion, it appears that Pope Paul VIs words were put into Pope Francis’s mouth which became the story. Currently you will see the news media backtracking.
USA Today say that the whole thing is a “journalistic train wreck”! They suggest that another encouragement for the news media to jump on the story is the simple fact that the current Pope took his name after St Francis of Assisi the patron saint of environmentalism and an animal lover. Also Francis had blessed a blind man’s guide dog soon after he was elected. Further, as stated, the current Pope likes to say novel and off-the-cuff things which fitted in nicely with the story.
An interesting additional bit of information is that you may recall that not long ago Francis bemoaned the fact that people in modern society have a tendency to favour pets over people, criticising the amount of money spent on companion animals while children went hungry. This does not support the view the pope is an animal lover. Is he? Do we know his stance on companion animals?
It would be very nice if Pope Francis made a public announcement about his feelings on the subject in discussion. But like I say, it wouldn’t make any difference to people like me or the vast majority of the public, I would suggest, because it seems illogical that animals should be barred from the afterlife, if it exists.