Thursday, December 18, 2014


Though dubious, when NPR reported that Pope Francis had said that dogs will go to heaven and thinking of my dog Sebastian, I texted Fr. Pfeiffer who has always maintained that dogs do not have immortal souls that, “HA!  IN YOUR FACE!  POPE SAYS DOGS GO TO HEAVEN!” though inside I was wondering, “How on earth can he say that?”


Well, as it turned out he said nothing of the kind.  There was a retraction in the New York Times the next day.  The “alleged” quote is now being attributed to Pope Paul VI who apparently said it to a young boy who he found crying in St. Peter Square.  “Paradise is open to all God’s creatures,” is the supposed quote though there is no hard and fast proof of it.  And, as one Catholic reporter for CNN wrote, “It’s called being pastoral.”  He was not trying to teach a crying boy doctrine but was trying to comfort him.  And this comment could be taken well within Catholic doctrine anyhoo . . . Scripture says there will be a new creation at the end times and what exactly that means we don’t know.

It’s like this:  When someone is very sad about the death of their pet and they ask me if they are going to see the animal in heaven I say (and this is where Fr. Pfeiffer and I butt heads) God guarantees you absolute happiness in heaven and IF you your absolute happiness depends on your pet being there, he will be there.”  Now that “IF” is a mighty powerful word and gets me out of a lot of theological trouble.  “I guarantee to make you pope IF another arm suddenly grows out of the top of my head at 2 o’clock today.”
ALL THIS GOES TO SAY don’t believe everything you read about the pope or the Church in popular media.  Don’t fly off the handle or start complaining to everyone in ear shot about the latest stupid thing someone in the Church did especially since the chances are it is exaggerated, mis-focused, or, as in this case, not true.  (Remember a couple of Easters ago they found the coffin of Jesus?)  This is just the latest in a long string of false or misleading reports AND IT IS GOING TO GET WORSE AS WE GET CLOSER TO THE POPE’S VISIT AND AS WE GET CLOSER TO THE 5OOTH ANNIVERSARY OF PROTESTANTISM IN 1017.  I beg you to exercise great prudence, patience, and fact checking when you hear something that sounds plausible, but just a bit off.


Jeff said...

An awful tornado hit a house in the middle of the night and carried away a farmer and his dog. When he awoke, the farmer found himself walking down a long road. He finally came to an enormous set of gates, covered in gold and pearls, and in front of the gates there was an old man sitting behind a desk. He had a long, flowing beard and was looking at a huge book.

"It's St. Peter," the farmer said to himself, "just like in the pictures!"

"Welcome," said the old man at the gate. "We've been expecting you. Come in. But leave your dog there. Dogs aren't allowed here."

The farmer looked at his dog, looked at the enormous gates, and looked at his dog again.

"Well, thanks," said the farmer, "but I think I'll just mosey down the road and find somewhere else."

And after a very long walk, the farmer and his dog came to an ordinary garden gate, where a young girl was stooped over, pulling weeds. "Oh, hello," she said sweetly. "Come in. We've been expecting you."

"This looks a bit like home," the farmer said to the girl. "Where are we exactly?'

"Oh, this is heaven," said the girl.

"No, I passed heaven's gates way back there," the man said. "But I decided not to go in, no matter how beautiful everyone said it would be. I was supposed to go in alone," nodding toward his dog.

"No, you passed the doors leading to a very bad place," the girl explained. "The man at that big gate was just trying to tempt you one last time. He wanted to see if you would abandon your best friend.

"But you didn't. You passed your final test and you made it all the way here. This is heaven. It would't be heaven if you couldn't take your dog. . ."

Stephen said...

Poor Father Valencheck,

One day in years past I asked my
Pastor (who is an avid golfer)if there are golf courses in heaven. He said, "Yes there are golf courses in heaven. Don't be silly." Then I asked if there are motorcycles in heaven since I am an avid motorcyclist. My Pastor said, "There are NO motorcycles in heaven. Don't be silly."

I showed my wife your blog today. She said, "The Blessed Mother told me that YES, there are CATS and BLACK LABS in heaven. No golf courses and No motorcycles. Don't be silly."

I asked my Guardian Angel if there are any R.C. Priests in heaven. He said, " I hope so. That would be nice. Are you looking for someone?"

Schismatic Stephen

Anonymous said...

is the catholic church going to the dogs?

MaryofSharon said...

Anonymous's comment is the best! Ha ha ha!

Fr. V., this post is a perfect example, and thankfully, for once, not particularly contentious example of the really catastrophic news coverage of Pope Francis. What on earth ever happened to journalists checking their facts with reliable sources?

Here's a point by point explanation of what went wrong with this story about pets. It offers a good example of how to think about other stories, too:
- "Why do we have reason to be suspicious?"
-"What did Francis actually say?"

Anonymous said...

haha.. is this kind of like the alleged "let's welcome homosexuals!" from the Pope, kerfluffle?

Anonymous said...

I believe in the Holy Ghost . . . . etc . . . . etc . . . . etc

the resurrection of the body and life everlasting amen