Roughly a month ago, my black chihuahua Max passed away. He was sick, so he wouldn’t live that long. No sense of smell, and not being able to jump, and do other things, didn’t help him. Nevertheless, he lived for 7 years, and we had a good run. I kept him as he was put down to sleep. At his funeral (in the back of our house) was well attended, even the in-laws were there, and 2 of my kids were devastated. My son suggested to put a cross on his grave, that it’s still there to this day.
So, the question always comes up, is Max in heaven?
I don’t know, I hope to see Max, but the Bible does not reassure of that. But I am not going to tell my children that, the big one understands, but not the little ones.
But pope Francis gave hope to a little boy who had gone through the trauma of losing his dog, and he was comforting him. The Business Insider reports on it:
Pope Francis declared recently in his regular weekly address at St. Peter’s Square that animals go to heaven. He made the statement while trying to comfort a boy who was upset about the death of his pet dog.
Quoting several biblical passages as evidence that animals go to heaven, Pope Francis said, “The holy scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us… what lies ahead… is therefore a new creation… It is not an annihilation of the universe and all that surrounds us. Rather it brings everything to its fullness of being, truth and beauty.”
And this was the final nail in the couffin:
“One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all God’s creatures.”
This gave hope to all animal lovers, but is it biblical? I can recall Romans 8, that the whole creation groans for redemption, cf. Rom. 8:19-23.
But this has also turned into a case of contradiction between 3 pontiffs:
But soon after publication of the article, Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, moved quickly to slam shut firmly the pearly gates of heaven against animals, declaring in the midst of his brief papal tenure, that animals are “not called to the eternal life,” and pointing out that animals are never mentioned in connection with salvation and eternal life in the Christian scriptures.
But how do we resolve the contradiction between the statements of two equally infallible vice-regents of God on Earth?
Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, is reported to have said in 1990 that “…animals possess a soul” and “in this respect, man, created by the hand of God, is identical with all other living creatures.”
However, Pope John Paul II offered no inspired papal insights into the animal hereafter, thus empowering Benedict to declare in effect, and in line with church tradition, that only humans have immortal souls.
While animal lovers quote Isaiah 11:6, which says that in the life hereafter “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together,” others sidestep the inconvenient verse, pointing out that the bible makes it clear in Mark 16:16that only “he that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”
Are these Popes speaking ex-cathedra or not?
I am not going into a deep theological argument, but the reporter rightly reaches the dilema I was thinking:
If animals go to heaven, do they also go to hell? Will my donkey suffer eternal damnation for that well-aimed kick at my groin, or my pitbull hellfire for attacking my toddler son? Will my hen go to perdition for cracking and eating its own egg, effectively aborting its own offspring in the womb?
What about earthworms, the bacteria in my gut, HIV and Ebola viruses that have caused untold suffering to humanity?
For sure, I wouldn’t like to see Ebola in heaven!!!
Well, just some food for thought for this weekend, when you for sure will spend more time with your beloved pet.