Speed Reads

Who's a good dog? Seriously

Pope Francis suggests that dogs and cats go to heaven

When a child is mourning the loss of a pet, it's only human to want to offer comfort. But when you're the pope, you might inadvertently set doctrine. "One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ," Pope Francis recently told a boy grieving the loss of his dog. "Paradise is open to all of God's creatures."

The Catholic Church has gone back and forth on the issue of whether animals can go to heaven, which would imply they have souls. Pope Pius IX (1846-78) vehemently opposed the idea, and Pope Francis' predecessor, Benedict XIV, said in 2008 that when an animal dies, that "just means the end of existence on earth," The New York Times recalls. Pope John Paul II seemed to support the idea that animals have souls.

Pope Francis' remarks may seem offhand, but Christian ethicists say they've sent waves through theological circles. The Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) — both of which, it turns out, have faith outreach coordinators — embraced the remarks as a repudiation of conservative Catholic dogma. PETA, pushing the envelope as it often does, said the pope was embracing vegetarianism. A spokesman for the U.S. pork producer's trade group disagreed. Read their delightful quotes and more details at The New York Times.