Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

Article excerpt

Humans have kept animals around for centuries. At first it was for hunting purposes, pest control, and general working tasks. It did not take long, however, for animals to start being bred and kept as companions. According to a 2015-2016 American Pet Products Association (APPA) survey, around 79.7 million households in America are home to a pet. It is clear animals hold a special place in our hearts. So when they die, as with our loved ones of the human variety, of course we want to know what becomes of them. Where do they fit into the world God has created?

Pope Pius IX is among the first of the popes to fully address the issue of animals going to heaven, though not favorably. He said that heaven is a place reserved for those with souls and a conscience, which animals don't have. He is even reported to have opposed the founding of an animal anticruelty society in Rome in the 19th century "on the ground that to grant permission would imply that human beings have duties to the lower creatures," says Peter Singer, an Australian philosopher who writes about animal rights.

Since Pius IX, however, popes have had differing views on the condition and treatment of animals. Pope Paul VI is reported to have consoled a boy whose pet dog had died, saying, "One day we will see our pets in the eternity of Christ." (In 2015, through a series of journalistic mishaps, that quote was falsely attributed to Pope Francis.)

In a 1990 papal audience, Pope John Paul II proclaimed that "the animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren. …

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