No, Pope Francis Did Not Say Dogs Can Go To Heaven: Sorry, Pet Lovers

Pope Francis has declared that all dogs can go to heaven in multiple erroneous media reports that have come out over the last couple of weeks. On Saturday, the Vatican finally squashed this Snopes fodder once and for all by explaining how numerous news outlets got it wrong.

“There is a fundamental rule in journalism. That is double-checking, and in this case it was not done,” said Father Ciro Benedettini, the Vatican’s deputy spokesman.

Benedettini and his staff have been busy fielding calls since Pope Francis allegedly said the comments to his general audience on November 26, Reuters reports.

The first outlet to debunk the now-viral declaration was Religious News Service, which pointed the finger of blame at Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on November 27.

The paper had a “misleading” headline that read, “The pope and animals. ‘paradise is open to all creatures.'”

From there, everyone from CNN to the New York Times fell for it, and have since had to print retractions.

This begs the question of what Pope Francis really thinks about pets. Reuters notes that his actions since taking over for Pope Benedict, who was decidedly non-pet-oriented, have been positive.

While Benedict said outright that heaven was only for mankind, Francis has demonstrated an affection for animals, allowing one girl to place a lamb across his shoulders, shepherd-style, and stating that a good pastor “should know not only the names of his parishioners but also the names of their dogs,” Benedettini said.

Of course, none of that is an outright admission that all dogs go to heaven or that dogs in heaven is even a sound biblical concept. However, it’s a softening from his immediate predecessor and a return to the “liberal” ideas of Pope John Paul (1990) on this subject.

One Pope who had no problem whatsoever with seeing animals in the afterlife was Pope Paul VI, who died in 1978, but not before stating that “one day we will see our animals in the eternity of Christ.”

Bottom line in all this: until Pope Francis is ready to issue a formal declaration regarding where he thinks animals spend the afterlife, we won’t know one way or another.

But what do you think about it, readers?

If there is a God ready to take us in when our time on earth is finished, would he be willing to accept our Yorkshire terriers as well? Should Pope Francis weigh in on this or leave it be? And would you believe him one way or the other? Sound off in our comments section.

[Image via giulio napolitano /]