It's been no secret that Pope Francis has been turning the heads of the more traditional catholic clergy with his declarations on behalf of the Vatican. While some may not agree with all of his changes and general modernization of ancient beliefs, his most recent announcement is sure to thrill animal lovers worldwide and of all beliefs. Last week, the current pontiff of the Catholic faith, Pope Francis expressed publically that animals do indeed go to heaven after they die. This comes contrary to the declarations of prior heads of the Roman Catholic Church, including his own predecessor Pope Benedict XVI who closed the doors to the kingdom of Heaven on animals in 2008 by stating, “For other creatures, who are not called to eternity, death just means the end of existence on Earth.”
The previous stance on animals and heaven was that they did not have the souls of humans and were not called to eternal life within those pearly gates. Animal and vegetable souls, upon death, simple cease to exist after death. This has often been a complicated issue for animal loving catholics. It is hard to look at an aging dog or cat and think back on all the unconditional love and companionship that they have provided with such pure hearts only to believe that when they are gone, they simply cease to be.
Pope Francis is said to have quoted the apostle Paul on the issue, who said: “One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ," in which the Pope added that, “Paradise is open to all God’s creatures.”
Pope Francis did not elaborate further on the topic, but it is thought that the current encyclical on environmental issues he is writing will include judgements on the scientific experimentation on animals as well as the brutal "mass produced" approach humanity has taken to butchering them for food and clothing.