Despite all the headlines this week about Pope Francis saying all dogs—and other animals—go to heaven, apparently he didn’t say that at all, according to an NBC News report today.
A similar quote should have been attributed to one of his predecessors, Pope Paul VI, who reigned from 1963 until his death in 1978.
The confusion began when, in a speech about the world that was posted on the Vatican website, Pope Francis said, “Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us.”
According to NBC News, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera interpreted this to mean that animals go to heaven. It compared what the pontiff said to what Pope Paul VI reportedly once told a grieving boy whose dog had died: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ.”
Neither Pope Francis or the Vatican has yet clarified the pontiff’s actual belief in whether animals are permitted beyond the Pearly Gates.
During his reign, Pope Francis has sent mixed signals about his feelings for pets. He was the first pope to ever bless a dog. But during a special mass last June, he told married couples they should focus on having children instead of pets. Otherwise, he warned them, their marriages would “come to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.”
Whatever Pope Francis believes, I have to agree with this famous quote from Will Rogers:
“If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.”
Photo: Fake church sign via Snopes.com