Pope Francis has declared that all animals go to heaven during his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square.
The Pope made these remarks after he received two donkeys as early Christmas presents. During his discussion, Pope Francis quoted the apostle Paul as he comforted a child who was mourning the death of his dog.
Francis quoted Paul's remarks as, "One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all God's creatures."
According to the Express, Pope Francis' declaration is in complete contrast to those that were previously made by his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict resigned from the position in 2013, declaring that he didn't possess the "strength of mind and body" to continue.
Pope Benedict said that animals "are not called to the eternal life." In a book that Pope Benedict wrote about the childhood of Jesus, he claimed that there was no mention of animals in any of the Gospels. In fact, he stated that the presence of animals in Nativity scenes is based on myth.
Pope Francis was given two donkeys by the names of Thea and Noah earlier this week. He was provided with these by a company that makes donkey milk for babies unable to drink other milks because of their allergies.
Upon receiving the rather unusual gift, Pope Francis went on to reveal that he used to drink donkey milk as a baby. This claim was made by Pierluigi Christophe Orunesu, who works for Eurolactis Italia, a donkey farming company.
Orunesu admitted that the pope was "very happy," before, according to the Daily Mail, he went on to add, "I told him he will have two friends for life. Pope Francis told me today in front of media that his mother regularly gave him donkey's milk where she could not provide enough breast milk or later on when he was a child."
Twenty-one gallons of donkey's milk were also donated to a pediatric hospital in Rome by the company. Eurolactis Italia also released a statement boasting of their gifts to Pope Francis.
"This gift of two very friendly young donkeys, Thea and Noah, is less surprising than it might first seem; the Holy Father chose to take the forename of Saint Francis of Assisi, who considered animals to be God's living creations and elevated them to the status of brothers to mankind. The donkey also holds a prominent place in the bible. This was the animal that kept Jesus warm in his manger in Bethlehem."
[Image via NPR]