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All dogs go to heaven? Pope Francis might agree

Do all dogs go to heaven, as the 1989 cartoon suggests?

Pope Francis reportedly didn’t count it out when consoling a young boy who just had lost his dog during a recent pubic appearance.

“One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures,” Francis reportedly told the boy.

The current pontiff isn’t the first to suggest animals also are welcome in heaven. The New York Times pointed out Pope John Paul II had proclaimed animals have souls and are “as near to God as men are.”

As recently as 2008, though, Pope Benedict XVI had said when an animal dies, it “just means the end of existence on earth.”

The Bible has little to say on the question; the writer of Ecclesiastes asking, “Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” And the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not directly address the question (see sections 2415 to 2418 for what it does say about animals).

Francis has said he took the name of St. Francis of Assisi as pope because of the Italian saint’s dedication to the poor.

But St. Francis also is patron of animals and ecology, a topic the pope notably has been addressing in recent appearances. He reportedly is preparing an encyclical about ecology, creation and respect for the environment for release in early 2015.

h/t New York Times