Those of us who have loved a pet already knew. We looked into their eyes, experienced the deep rumble of a heartfelt purr or the joyous abandon of a wagging tail, watched them play, watched them grow old with (and sometimes without) grace, and broke our hearts over their passing. We already knew.
But the age-old debate lingers in the religious world. Can our pets go to heaven?
Update: Alas, the original source of the story (the New York Times) has issued a correction – they misquoted the Pope. Do you think we’ll see our pets in heaven? I still do.
This week, according to Time, Pope Francis joined the ranks of Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Robert Louis Stevenson, and millions of other pet lovers. Confronted with a little boy grieving for his lost dog, he responded with compassion, telling the boy, “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” Regardless of your religious beliefs, what a wonderful thing, for the Pope himself to express the timeless truth we’ve all held in our hearts.
When I was little, my grandmother gave me one of my aunt’s old books – one of the first children’s books to speak out against animal abuse. Beautiful Joe is a fictionalized account of a real dog’s story, written in 1893 from the dog’s point of view, and I fell madly in love with it. A line from that story stuck in my mind today when I read about the pope’s statement. One character says after listing the merits of his dearly departed dog, that if his Donald isn’t allowed into heaven, “I’ll no gang there one foot.”
My sentiments exactly.
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