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Animals Go To Heaven , says Pope Francis

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Pope Francis declared recently in his regular weekly
address at St. Peter ’ s Square that animals go to heaven .
He made the statement while trying to comfort a boy who
was upset about the death of his pet dog.
Quoting several biblical passages as evidence that
animals go to heaven , Pope Francis said , “ The holy
scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful
design also affects everything around us… what lies
ahead… is therefore a new creation … It is not an
annihilation of the universe and all that surrounds us.
Rather it brings everything to its fullness of being , truth
and beauty . ”
The 77 – year – old pontiff then concluded: “ One day we will
see our animals again in eternity of Christ . Paradise is
open to all God ’ s creatures . ”
Reacting to Francis ’ statement, the Italian newspaper
Corriere della Sera wrote optimistically that the pontiff had
effectively declared an expansive “ hope of salvation and
eschatological beatitude to animals and the whole of
creation . ”
While the declaration from the controversial pontiff might
have brought consolation and relief to animal – loving
Catholics who have mourned the loss of a pet , it probably
caused Church conservatives more hand – wringing over
their fears about their pope ’ s escalating “ liberalism. ”
Soon after Francis made the statement, the Italian
company Eurolactic Italia , which produces donkey milk as
alternative nutriment for babies allergic to human and
cow milk , presented him with two donkeys , Thea and
Noah , as Christmas presents .
Media reports quoted an official of the company , Pierluigi
Christophe Orunesu , saying that Francis confessed that
he loves donkey ’ s milk having consumed it as child . Thea
and Noah would no doubt be in heaven to provide the
pontiff a constant supply of milk .
Francis ’ declaration that “ heaven is open to all God ’ s
creatures ” could be interpreted by the theologically naive
only as a statement expressing the sincere feelings of an
animal lover . But it is one sufficient to spark an
acrimonious debate till kingdom come among church
theologians who have hitherto assumed that the privileges
of heavenly beatitude are reserved exclusively for
humans .
The notion of animals going to heaven is one that church
leaders and theologians immersed in anthropocentric
biblical worldviews have apparently never given much
thought to . The question of what happens to our favorite
pooches and moggies after death only began assuming
significant dimensions recently
with the Christianity Today , in 2012 , raising the question,
“ Do Pets Go to Heaven ?”
But soon after publication of the article, Pope Francis ’
predecessor , Pope Benedict XVI , moved quickly to slam
shut firmly the pearly gates of heaven against animals ,
declaring in the midst of his brief papal tenure , that
animals are “ not called to the eternal life , ” and pointing
out that animals are never mentioned in connection with
salvation and eternal life in the Christian scriptures .
But how do we resolve the contradiction between the
statements of two equally infallible vice – regents of God on
Earth ?
Benedict ’ s predecessor , Pope John Paul II , is reported to
have said in 1990 that “… animals possess a soul ” and “ in
this respect , man, created by the hand of God , is identical
with all other living creatures . ”
However , Pope John Paul II offered no inspired papal
insights into the animal hereafter , thus empowering
Benedict to declare in effect, and in line with church
tradition , that only humans have immortal souls .
While animal lovers quote Isaiah 11 : 6, which says that in
the life hereafter “ the wolf shall dwell with the lamb , and
the leopard shall lie down with the young goat , and the
calf and the lion and the fattened calf together , ” others
sidestep the inconvenient verse , pointing out that the bible
makes it clear in Mark 16 :16 that only “ he that believes
and is baptized shall be saved. ”
In truth , the Apostles never baptized or preached the
gospel to chickens , dogs and cats. Even human gentiles
were granted the boon of heavenly afterlife only as an
afterthought ; that is , after the Jews rejected the message .
Ultimately, the notion that animals go to heaven raises a
medley of theological riddles for those with the leisure to
indulge in unbridled rumination over the spiritual
mysteries of existence :
If animals go to heaven , do they also go to hell ? Will my
donkey suffer eternal damnation for that well- aimed kick
at my groin , or my pitbull hellfire for attacking my toddler
son ? Will my hen go to perdition for cracking and eating
its own egg , effectively aborting its own offspring in the
womb?
What about earthworms , the bacteria in my gut , HIV and
Ebola viruses that have caused untold suffering to
humanity?
And where does God draw the line in the hierarchy of
animal lifeforms that separates those eligible for afterlife
from those not sufficiently evolved to benefit from the
comforts of heavenly bliss?
On the contrary, do non- human life forms have an
assured automatic ticket to heaven for lacking a
moralizing intellect ?

– Culled from Digital Journal

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