Dogs go to heaven? The Pope never said that.
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.
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.
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