During a recent public appearance, Francis comforted a boy whose dog had died, noting, "One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God's creatures."I'm sure we can count on the cat lovers to demand
Theologians say Francis — who took his papal name from the patron saint of animals, St. Francis of Assisi — was only speaking conversationally.
But the remark is being seen by some as a reversal of conservative Catholic theology that states because they are soulless, animals can't go to heaven, The New York Times reports.
In 1990, Pope John Paul II said animals have souls, but his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, gave a 2008 sermon that seemed to say the opposite.
As someone who has lived with and loved a number dogs and cats, I'm satisfied with this important revelation. However, we must ask how far down the tree of life ensoulment occurs (and how it skipped gingers). Is it mammals only, in which case, a few deer, squirrels and porcupines will have a bone to pick with me in the afterlife. Vertebrates? If so, I would be obliged to avoid water the water bodies of heaven, for fear of angry fish. Is the dividing line plant vs animal? What about the intermediate cases, like Euglena and slime molds? I could abide a heaven that admits the full panoply of life on earth, as it has been since creation. It would have to be quite a big place, though.
However, I would hope that tick, fleas and poison ivy be partitioned off into a separate area reserved for democrats and SJWs.