The Pope was just in the United States for his first Papal visit. Millions of people flocked to get a glimpse of him. He spoke to congress, said Mass and blessed as many as he could. During his brief tenure as Pope, he has seemed to open the church’s umbrella to accept those who have previously been shunned and has challenged the Church to reach out more to the poor and disenfranchised. In addition, Pope Francis, to the consternation of some, has spoken off handedly about issues that have been hotly debated from the Church’s inception. One of those issues is whether animals go to heaven.
Pope Francis recently stated during one of his general audiences that “Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us.” Some who have analyzed the Pope’s remarks have concluded that, like Pope Pius VI, Pope Francis believes that animals have a place in the afterlife. Pope Pius VI is said to have told a young boy who had recently lost his dog “One day we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”
Why am I talking about this now? Well, I recently learned that my very special canine companion of 14 years, Paddy, has lymphoma and does not have long to live. I, of course, am devastated. She has been so precious to me. There is nothing like the unconditional love of a pet. She has been a part of my and my family’s life since she was a puppy. We rescued her from the Pasadena Humane Society when she was 5 months old. She had been found as a stray. She was so shy when we first took her home but she soon warmed up to us and has been the sweetest most loving girl there could be. I can’t even express how much I love her and how hard it has been for me since learning she is ill and will not be a part of my life much longer. Every day I make sure that she gets everything she needs and wants and keep her close to me so that I can enjoy these final days with her. She doesn’t seem ready to go yet and I am not ready for her to go either. I feel like she will let me know when it is time. Perhaps she is waiting for me to come to terms with it. Perhaps she knows how sad I will be without her. Perhaps she just wants that one more day with me as I do with her. I don’t really know.
I have always thought that she would go to heaven when she passed because no living being so sweet and loving could be left behind. That Pope Francis believes there is a place in the afterlife for Paddy and all of the other animals makes me feel a little better. The idea of never seeing her again was just too awful to contemplate. Now I feel as though our separation is a temporary one and that I will see her again when it is my time and that she will be waiting for me. That doesn’t mean that I am not sad because I am and I will be devastated when she is gone but the knowledge that I will see her again helps me to get through this most difficult time.
I have always known that because of my belief in God and his son Jesus Christ that I will go to heaven someday and now I know from the words of the Pope that all dogs truly do go to heaven.