Dogs go to heaven? The Pope never said that.

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 13, 2014

By now I’m sure you’ve seen dozens of stories about the Pope’s remark that dogs go to heaven.

They’re all wrong. He didn’t say it.

My friend Richard Chonak has checked the facts-- something that dozens of reporters evidently failed to do. He’s posted the full story on the Catholic Light sight.

The short version: At a public audience back in November, Pope Francis quoted Pope Paul VI*, who told a little boy saddened by his dog’s death, “One day we will see our animals in the eternity of Christ.”

Then the fun began. Some sloppy reporters attributed that comment to Pope Francis, neglecting the fact that he was quoting his predecessor. Others said that he was quoting Saint Paul rather than Pope Paul. Once the New York Times carried the item (two weeks later), nearly everyone picked up the error.

There’s a theological point to be made here, too. Saying that we will see our pets in eternity is not quite the same as saying that dogs will go to heaven. But that’s a subtle distinction, and we can’t very well expect reporters to grasp the subtle distinctions if they can’t make the obvious ones.

So let’s stick to basics. The Pope never said it.

* Correction: Pope Francis didn't even quote Pope Paul! The remark by Pope Paul was recalled by a reporter for Corriere della Sera, and other reporters took off from there. Pope Francis never mentioned pets

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: garedawg - Dec. 15, 2014 11:04 AM ET USA

    In some ways, it's too bad, since I was looking forward to an "In Depth" article on the eternal destiny of animals and the magisterial impact of a remark to a little boy. But in other ways, this is far more amusing.