I get that there are two sides to the controversy surrounding Pope Francis’ comments about pets in heaven, among them ‘Can animals choose right from wrong (do they have souls)’ and ‘If animals have souls, can we eat them?’ To me, it’s talking apples and oranges: one side is arguing for heaven as a theological structure and the other for heaven as a paradise structure. If there was such a thing as ex cathedra Victoria (from the chair of Victoria) I would settle the argument by saying, “Yes! Pets indeed go to heaven.” Here’s why.
1. Animals are part of creation, specifically named in Genesis as being created by God and found to be good by Him just as the sky, sea, and man were created and found to be good.
2.. Animals are part of the story of salvation. God saved the animals along with Noah. God used Jonah and the whale to make a point. In the end times the “lion will lie down with the lamb”and angels will ride horses to deliver the sequence of terrors. Sometimes, loving an animal puts a person on the road to loving humans. Oh, yes, it is easy to see that God has a salvation purpose, a ministry, for pets.
3. For pet owners, heaven wouldn’t be much of a paradise without their pets. Even though God’s love should be enough for us, do any of us think we’ll be happy in heaven without our loved ones? Pets are part of our loved ones.
4. If you have never had a pet keep vigil at your bedside when you were sick, or dig up a bone and give it to you as you cried in grief, or run to get help if you fell and couldn’t move then you may not understand that pets can and do make decisions–and they make them based on love. They have souls; the nature of which only God knows. Just because we don’t understand it doesn’t make it untrue.
Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened. Anonymous
(For more info see On the Book Shelf at this Fish Sticks website www.thevictoriaryan.com)