The Pope’s views on animals and heaven go viral

With my post on “The Dog Delusion“, I was ahead of the curve, though I thought of it as a humorous Papal remark that wouldn’t go anywhere. I was wrong: the Pope’s implication that all animals go to Heaven (implying they have souls), as well as the discovery of an earlier and similar statement by Pope Paul VI*, have unleashed a frenzy of theological speculation, as well as musings by meat producers and vegetarians about the implications for eating animals. What all this shows is how intellectually depauperate religion is, and how believers fervently discuss questions that have no hope of ever being resolved. Theologians, and even the New York Times, think that the Pope’s remarks, and the uproar they’ve caused, are both serious and newsworthy.

In fact, Pope Francis’s pronouncements on animals and the afterlife made the front page of yesterday’s New York Times, in a piece called “Dogs in Heaven? Pope Francis leaves pearly gates open.” And the controversy was on the evening news last night as well. The Times article raises many questions (quotes from the piece are indented):

Does this cause a theological ferment? Yes. 

Charles Camosy, an author and professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University, said it was difficult to know precisely what Francis meant, since he spoke “in pastoral language that is not really meant to be dissected by academics.” But asked whether the remarks had caused a new debate on whether animals have souls, suffer and go to heaven, Mr. Camosy said, “In a word: absolutely.”

Did the Pope really mean it? No, it was meant “casually” (i.e., metaphorically).

In his remarks, as reported by Vatican Radio, Francis said of paradise: “It’s lovely to think of this, to think we will find ourselves up there. All of us in heaven. It’s good, it gives strength to our soul.

“At the same time, the Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us, and that came out of the thought and the heart of God.”

Theologians cautioned that Francis had spoken casually, not made a doctrinal statement.

Did the Pope mean it? Yes.

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large of America, the Catholic magazine, said he believed that Francis was at least asserting that “God loves and Christ redeems all of creation,” even though conservative theologians have said paradise is not for animals.

“He said paradise is open to all creatures,” Father Martin said. “That sounds pretty clear to me.”

NOTE: That last sentence, which was there yesterday, has mysteriously disappeared from the article this morning. It may be because Martin learned that “paradise is open to all creatures” came not from Pope Francis, but from Pope Paul VI (see below).  But a Pope is a Pope. And Martin is quoted later in the article saying this:

Father Martin said he did not believe the pope’s remarks could be construed as a comment on vegetarianism. But, he said, “he’s reminding us that all creation is holy and that in his mind, paradise is open to all creatures, and frankly, I agree with him.”

Do all the Popes agree that animals have souls? No.

The question of whether animals go to heaven has been debated for much of the church’s history. Pope Pius IX, who led the church from 1846 to 1878, longer than any other pope, strongly supported the doctrine that dogs and other animals have no consciousness. He even sought to thwart the founding of an Italian chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Pope John Paul II appeared to reverse Pius in 1990 when he proclaimed that animals do have souls and are “as near to God as men are.” But the Vatican did not widely publicize his assertion, perhaps because it so directly contradicted Pius, who was the first to declare the doctrine of papal infallibility in 1854.

John Paul’s successor, Benedict, seemed to emphatically reject his view in a 2008 sermon in which he asserted that when an animal dies, it “just means the end of existence on earth.”

But were these Popes speaking ex cathedra, the only time when they’re infallible (or, as Archie Bunker once said, “inflammable”)?

Is it good news for animal lovers? Yes! Not only will you see your pets in heaven, but there are other beneficial results:

Ms. Gutleben of the Humane Society said Francis’ apparent reversal of Benedict’s view could be enormous. “If the pope did mean that all animals go to heaven, then the implication is that animals have a soul,” she said. “And if that’s true, then we ought to seriously consider how we treat them. We have to admit that these are sentient beings, and they mean something to God.”

Sarah Withrow King, director of Christian outreach and engagement at PETA, one of the most activist anti-slaughterhouse groups, said the pope’s remarks vindicated the biblical portrayal of heaven as peaceful and loving, and could influence eating habits, moving Catholics away from consuming meat — which she asserted had already been happening anyway. “It’s a vegan world, life over death and peace between species,” she said. “I’m not a Catholic historian, but PETA’s motto is that animals aren’t ours, and Christians agree. Animals aren’t ours, they’re God’s.”

It’s interesting that in the last sentence PETA, which I haven’t thought of as a religious organization, suddenly buys into faith. They will in fact say anything that helps their cause. (I have mixed feelings about PETA, but think they’ve done some good things by calling attention to the horrendous mistreatment of animals raised for consumption or their eggs or milk.)

Is it bad news for meat producers? It would seem so, for killing something with a soul is murder. But the purveyors of meat don’t think so, and, as always, can cherry-pick the Bible to support their views:

“As on quite a few other things Pope Francis has said, his recent comments on all animals going to heaven have been misinterpreted,” Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said in an email. “They certainly do not mean that slaughtering and eating animals is a sin.” Mr. Warner quoted passages from Genesis that say man is given “dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on earth.”

“While that ‘dominion’ means use for human benefit, it also requires stewardship — humane care and feeding — something all farmers who raise animals practice every day of every year,” Mr. Warner said.

It’s news to me that “all farmers” practice humane care and feeding every day of the year. Tell that to those who confine pigs or calves in small stalls, or cut off the beaks of battery chickens.

Is this whole debate insane? Yes! 

Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Tex., and an expert on the history of dog-human interaction, said she believed that there would be a backlash from religious conservatives, but that it would take time.

“The Catholic Church has never been clear on this question; it’s all over the place, because it begs so many other questions,” she said. “Where do mosquitoes go, for God’s sake?”

Indeed! I await the Vatican’s pronouncement about which animals get to go to Heaven, and which are Left Behind. Which species have souls, and which don’t? It reminds me of the barminology debate about how many “kinds” of animals there are.

This kerfuffle simply demonstrates what Andrew Bernstein said in an article about the uselessness of religion during the Dark Ages (a quote that I reproduce in The Albatross; reference below):

Here is the tragedy of theology in its distilled essence: The employment of high-powered human intellect, of genius, of profoundly rigorous logical deduction—studying nothing. In the Middle Ages, the great minds capable of transforming the world did not study the world; and so, for most of a millennium, as human beings screamed in agony—decaying from starvation, eaten by leprosy and plague, dying in droves in their twenties—the men of the mind, who could have provided their earthly salvation, abandoned them for otherworldly fantasies.

___________

Bernstein, A. A. 2006. “The Tragedy of Theology: How Religion Caused and Extended the Dark Ages.” Objective Standard 1:11–37.

*Pope Paul VI’s statement, made to a child distraught over the loss of his dog: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.’’

As an update, reader Pliny the In Between contributed a cartoon:

Toon Background.001

 

 

 

169 Comments

  1. Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    All I know is that William Lane Craig hasn’t been sleeping well.

    • Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      LOL

      • Posted December 13, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        I was waiting for the headline “Pope opens theological can of worms, says they can all go to heaven”

  2. Nicolas Perrault
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Do animals go to hell? If yes how to explain they are so punished without even having a soul? No, God is too good for this. But if all animals go to heaven I would rather be an animal. Is my soul a curse in disguise?

    • Linda Grilli Calhoun
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      I’m also interested that female animals labor.

      Supposedly, labor is women’s punishment for Eve’s transgression.

      So, what did female animals do to deserve the same “punishment”? L

      • Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        You atheists and your thinking. Just stop it, already!

      • gluonspring
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        Isn’t it a bit worse for humans, what with our huge heads and narrow-for-upright-walking pelvises? Or is that just some misinformation I’ve picked up somewhere?

        • Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

          Well, even without big heads, the contractions themselves are the opposite of a picnic, my wife tells me.

    • Sastra
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Your intellect is the curse. God in most manifestations values simple-minded trust and devotion. If you can conquer your intellect and give that, it counts.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      That is an important point. If animals can go to heaven, then there must also be a hell for animals. Also animal purgatory, and animal angels and animal devils.

      • Sastra
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        Ask and it shall be granted.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

          Oh, my d*g!

      • microraptor
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        Yes. The animal devils are native to Tasmania.

      • Bernie
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure the Ebola virus will go straight to hell, unlike the mostly beneficial gut bacteria.

  3. Mark Perew
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Peter, allegedly the first Pope, was told to “Kill and eat” (Acts 10:13). It creates a logical conundrum to honor animals with a soul that are also food.

    Also, which species of kingdom animalia will be in heaven? Will there be nematodes and tsetse flies? What about T-Rex or tiktaalik?

    • Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Rest assured that the T-rex is eating salad in heaven whilst providing transportation for Jesus and the angels.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        I’d rather ride a T-rex than a Stegosaurus.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Not if there’s a vegetable heaven…

        • Posted December 16, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

          Don’t forget our friends the fungi, bacteria and archaea!

          • Diane G.
            Posted December 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

            Oh, noes! I’m a kingdomist!

            (Domainist?)

  4. Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on ben2know and commented:
    really

  5. GBJames
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    sub

    • francis
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      //

  6. Cliff Melick
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Why don’t we call him “Dope Francis” and get on with it? It would explain a lot of his utterances.

  7. Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    “Charles Camosy, an author and professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University, said it was difficult to know precisely what Francis meant, since he spoke ‘in pastoral language that is not really meant to be dissected by academics.’”

    What does Camosy mean, here? Does he mean that the pope was lying to the believers, and that “academics” should ignore his words because this lying is just what popes do? Why should curious academics not examine “pastoral language,” which would seem to be the place where the religious rubber contacts the road?

    • Sastra
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Yes, that term — “pastoral language” — is striking, isn’t it. Apparently it’s “not really meant to be dissected by academics.”

      Whoa. This suddenly explains a lot. What a handy excuse. No wonder they’ve been rolling their eyes at skeptical gnu atheists trying to analyze and examine for meaning. Silly. It can’t be understood that way.

      Pastoral language is meant for the Little People, the simple-minded folk who need to believe and don’t know or care about any pesky or troubling details. They can’t handle the truth. So now the religious and spiritual leaders speak in “pastoral language” and everyone can just take what they need and leave the rest. What’s not to like?

      In using “pastoral language” the Pope is I think engaging in what’s called “terminological inexactitude.” Common parlance labels that a “lie” — but hey, we’re dealing with faith here and one must temper the wind to the shorn lamb.

      • Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        I speak in pastoral language sometimes if I have too much wine before dinner is served.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          Australia’s so-called “prime minister” (pro tem; see what the next news cycle brings) Tony Abbott speaks in pastoral language all the time.

          • BillyJoe
            Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

            You beat me to it. Tony Abbott came to my mind as well. Core and non core promises. It’s amazing how journalists excoriated Julia Gillard for her one broken promise and Tony Abbott gets away with murder every day.

            • John Scanlon, FCD
              Posted December 14, 2014 at 1:10 am | Permalink

              ‘Core and non-core’ was Howard’s line. Abbott only knows one kind.

      • Posted December 13, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Isn’t it rather a wicked triumph of sorts that the Catholic intelligensia can essentially utilize doctrinal absences about their aesthetically ugly concepts for maintaining socio-political control within their cult?

        As a happy ex-Catholic, I claim there is a kind of uncodified Common Law within Catholic culture(s) that rules with the power of official dogma. I further claim the non-Catholic public has been duped into playing the Catholic Church’s, Inc. game by accepting their doctrine vs. no doctrine distractions.

        This false distinction probably works well at keeping clergy out of jail so I expect no changes.

        Mike

      • chris moffatt
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 5:38 am | Permalink

        “pastoral language” is plain language that says simply what it means in words that the despised laity can readily understand. Language of this kind is too simple and direct to be understood by theologians who require a high level of indirectness, obfuscation, prevarication and dissimulation in their discourses.

    • Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      I had a similar thought wrt “ex cathedra” pronouncements. What would be the point of a pope making pronouncements, esp ones like Francis’s that play at sounding “doctrine-y”, that aren’t ex cathedra? To get believers’ hopes up, only to later say “oops, guess I was wrong”? Does the pope have a hotline to god it not? If not, why would he make pronouncements he’s not sure about (I mean, assuming you buy all the catholic flimflam)?

      I don’t see how, if you buy into Catholicism, a pope would or even could speak in anything other than “ex cathedra” mode. Anything not in ex cathedra mode reduces to “???” which means that whatever the pope says in non ex cathedra mode is no better than anything anyone says. Which undoes the whole point of having a pope.

      It seems to me this whole “ex cathedra” business is just an attempt to minimize contradiction. “Oh did you spot a contradiction with something some other pope said? Well, those statements weren’t ex cathedra, so everything’s fine.” It’s the exact same tactic grade schoolers use when they cross their fingers behind their backs.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

  8. Moishe
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Can a church jump the shark? And do sharks have soles?

    • Jeff Rankin
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      I see what you did there!

    • Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Well, it seems pretty clear that the Church is floundering, if that helps.

      b&

      • GBJames
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        God’s in his Heaven and everyone’s in their plaice.

      • still learning
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        Well, the church tells a lot of fishy stories that people swallow hook, line, and sinker.

        • Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:57 am | Permalink

          He’s not saying this stuff for the halibut: he smelt a chance to trawl the snappers. From my perch, seems he’s letting minnow how crappie his theology is. I mean, oh my cod, the way people carp an over an offhand remark! Salmon just shoot me!

          • Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

            Tripe! He’s not saying this tripe for the halibut.

            • Jeff Rankin
              Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

              Stop, you’re giving me a haddock!

              • Posted December 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

                Sorry, chum. I was dolphinately pushing it.

              • microraptor
                Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

                You’re doing that on porpoise.

          • boggy
            Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

            The piece of cod that passeth understanding.

          • Filippo
            Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

            What did the crab say when he discovered his long-lost girlfriend?

            He said, “I lobster, but I flounder.”

    • Jeff Rankin
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      This thread’s getting a little hoki.

      • Posted December 13, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Can’t sushi the humor in it? Unagi-na find puns like this elsewhere tetsu tried!

        • Posted December 13, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          That’s just raw!

          b&

          • NewEnglandBob
            Posted December 13, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

            I will just tuna this out.

        • Jeff Rankin
          Posted December 13, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

          I’m apologizing for this one in advance –

          What a pain in the bass!

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        I was going to crab about it bit decide to lobster over more.

        • Posted December 13, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          Now you’re just being shellfish.

          b&

          • Jeff Rankin
            Posted December 13, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

            Oh come on, clam up!

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted December 13, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

              Don’t make me mussel in!

              • microraptor
                Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

                I think you’re full of abalone.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

                Paua! Zoom! Right in the kisser!

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      And do sharks have soles?

      I didn’t even know they had feet. Must one of them evolution thingies…

      • microraptor
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        Of course sharks have soles. How else could they skate?

    • Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      Sharks have soles all the time. For lunch.

  9. Jeff Rankin
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    That Bernstein quote is fantastic!

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it is. Every day, my anticipatory longing for Jerry’s new book grows.

    • marvol19
      Posted December 14, 2014 at 1:48 am | Permalink

      I thought so too, saved it to my quote file.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      + 3

  10. Susan
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Is it possible that they just make it all up as they go along to please the audience of the moment? Could all religious philosophy be nothing more than a three day pile of equine excrement? Will the deluded masses ever figure out that they’ve been duped? Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of “Silly thoughts from the man with a silly hat.”

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Only equine excrement in the US.

      In Britain it would be bovine (or should that be taurean?) excrement.

      Which raises the question, if animals (inlcuding those large quadrupeds) go to heaven, do they have piles of it up there too?

      • microraptor
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        It gets sent to dung beetle heaven.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Perhaps we are witnessing, yet again, religion being influenced by secular views informed through science and our own observations. Just as we stopped being as cruel to animals as our near ancestors were, we now recognize how like humans they are in their cognition, emotions and even inner life. The Church is simply reflecting this.

    • Sastra
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      I suspect they’re not so much following what science has concluded as paying attention to how modern people have come to anthropomorphise the hell out of their pets.

      We did this in the past too, of course, but often it was only to demonize the animals. Now people frequently treat them just like children and imagine that their inner lives are ‘rich’ in a very human-like way, with complex thoughts, conclusions, and reflections which no serious scholar on the topic would grant.

      The Church then is not only playing catch-up to reflect the change, I think they’re shrewdly wising up to what will get some of those lapsed butts back in the pew. Wait for “Bring-Your-Pet” services, with chewy treats given for their ‘communion.’

      It will then get worse.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Ha ha! Maybe you’re right. I’ve witnessed way too many dressed up dogs in baby prams to disagree.

      • microraptor
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        Does pet day at the Catholic elementary school I attended count?

      • Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

        *Wait* for bring your pet services?

        No need to wait.

  12. lkr
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    So many questions!
    — Do Catholics also imagine restoration of the body [or is this restricted to a few like Jesus and Mary?] If they do,imagine the constituents of the meat-eaters becoming ever more transparent as they evaporate out and reconstitute as cows, pigs, chickens… while the noble vegans retain their ideal terrestrial form..
    — Francis himself spent his life in one of the champion meat-eating cultures, Argentina — has he been tortured over the decades, imagining this at thousands of dinners and barbeques? [Check that — he seems to have found peace with the military government..]
    — Are animals really able to go to Paradise, or only really good d-gs,the rest remaining in limbo?
    — Are animals capable of evil? –if so, I’d expect that I and the bull who gored me will roast in Hell together, he for the second time..

  13. DrDroid
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Well if some animals go to heaven (the good ones I presume, or at least the ones that are Catholic), it logically follows that some go to hell. I suppose that is where the phrase “Hounds of Hell” originated?

  14. Randy Schenck
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Let’s ask the pope how much of their fabulous wealth do they give out in the form of charity to the animals? Or maybe they see the suffering in this life for them, similar to the homo sapiens. Just give it to us now and you will get yours later.

  15. Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    You have got to love the absurdity of the Pork Association spinning the pope’s words. And quoting the Old Testament! Really, Pork Association? You don’t have home field advantage there.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Heh, heh, good point.

      • Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        i guess it’s no surprise when someone whose job it is to make up BS makes up BS about the BS of someone else whose job it is to make up BS. Still. I think the wise answer would have been “no comment.”

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          Well, both of them are basically just PR flacks after all.

  16. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    What does a dog or a cat have to do to go to hell? If so, will the Catholic church be offering them confession? Did Jesus die for them too – just a little bit? Can Fido avail himself of indulgences? Are there demons who possess Muffin or Rover – and can they be exorcised?
    This is deep stuff.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Deepity stuff indeed. I expect we will eventually see discussions on how many bacteria that can sit on the head of a pin.

    • gluonspring
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      Jesus took one of the lashes for the animals, I think.

      • Filippo
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        What do swine have to do? Apparently be sufficiently close by?

  17. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Tex., and an expert on the history of dog-human interaction, said she believed that there would be a backlash from religious conservatives, but that it would take time.

    “The Catholic Church has never been clear on this question; it’s all over the place, because it begs so many other questions,” she said. “Where do mosquitoes go, for God’s sake?”

    And if Dogs haz a Delusion (aka Soul™), where does it stop? Is a carnivore feeding a Soul™ Cannibal?

    Oh well, the Doglicks have zombies…

    By the way, shouldn’t the cartoon spell “a buy into”?

    • Pliny the in Between
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      I looked it up and according to New Oxford – bye is an appropriate choice.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        I wasn’t sure if Torbjörn was being serious or punning. If serious–Torbjörn, “a bye” can also mean “a pass.” Like a “get-in-free” card. But since your English is better than mine, I should no doubt give you credit on the pun theory.

        Of course, to be able to buy their way into heaven, they’d need to know about it. Then they’d need to angle for all the “good dog!”s they could get…

    • Filippo
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      “The Catholic Church has never been clear on this question.”

      How clear are Protestants about the matter, especially Southern Baptists, the epitome of certainty about the rectitude of their religious opinions?

  18. W.Benson
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Pope Francis (aka Pe. Jorge Bergoglio) is a Jesuit gone bad. Jesuits have traditionally considered animals unfeeling objects to be used as the owner liked. Abusers of vivisection such as Rene Descartes and Claude Bernard were educated by Jesuits. Descartes, in replying to a letter questioning blood circulation, cut the beating heart from a rabbit to refresh his memory. Jesuit schools at the time (early 1600s) used vivisection to teach biology: the yelps of dogs nailed to planks were likened to the squeaking of springs of a damaged clock. The lab of French physiologist Claude Bernard was so cruel and depressing that his wife Marie Françoise deserted him and some years later formed, with the aid of Bernard’s two daughters, France’s first Anti-Vivisection Society.

    • boggy
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      The French have only recently passed a law stating that animals are sentient beings and should be treated humanely.Unfortunately this law has had no effect on the amount of faeces dogs deposit on the streets.

      • Posted December 14, 2014 at 12:39 am | Permalink

        Parisians dump everything in the streets. Poop’s just a small part of the problem.

    • gluonspring
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      Ugh. But thanks for the historical note.

  19. NewEnglandBob
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    This is the same old stuff, “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”. Absolutely irrelevant and silly.

  20. Nell Whiteside
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Viral – because the statement is ridiculous or because some people actually believe in souls?

    Taking the mickey out of it, God @TheTweetOfGod said, “Pope Francis Suggests All Animals Go To Heaven.” Awwwww! Who’s a good Pope? You are! Yes you are!”

    The pope hasn’t heard that living organisms are exquisitely complex, ‘self-replicating robots'(Dawkins). The concept of a soul is just a cowardly way out of facing this reality!

  21. Heather Hastie
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I’d just like to point out too that the document on which the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility is based is has been proven unequivocally to be a forgery. The fact popes felt they needed to invent this document is a reflection of both their dishonesty and insecurity.

    I’m also a bit dismayed at the number of people who are saying this means we have to recognize animals are sentient and therefore we have to treat them well. We already knew they were sentient and besides, surely not being cruel to animals should be taken as read.

    And I’ve heard the owners of battery hens and pig crates use some ridiculous justifications for their cruelty, but dragging a god into the argument is just bizarre.

    • Posted December 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      I’d just like to point out too that the document on which the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility is based is has been proven unequivocally to be a forgery.

      Which document do you have in mind?

      As I understand it, the Church traces it back to the attestations of the various canonical Gospels that Peter is the rock upon which the Church shall be built, coupled with the Church’s claims to trace its lineage of popes back to Peter.

      Now, the Gospels are certainly pious fiction and there are of course all sorts of problems of tracing a lineage back a couple millennia (especially considering all the schisms along the way)…but I’m not sure I’d use the term, “forgery,” to describe the Gospels, nor the New Testament as an whole a single document….

      b&

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted December 13, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        I’m talking about the Papal Bull of Infallibility.

        • Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          I’m not aware of any such bull.

          Do you perhaps mean Unam sanctam, Boniface VIII’s 1302 bull? If so, I wasn’t aware of any questions about its authenticity — though it certainly was quite controversial at the time. Indeed, it sparked an armed revolt by King Philip IV of France that led to Boniface’s death less than a year later.

          But for Unam sanctam to be a forgery…would pretty much call into question the accuracy of huge swaths of fourteenth century history, including the Avignon Papacy. Not entirely out of the question, of course, but an extraordinary claim nonetheless.

          b&

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted December 13, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

            It’s more than 30 years since I studied this, so I’m going to struggle with the details. It’s not the Bull that was a forgery. The Bull I’m talking about was based on a document that surfaced in the Middle Ages, supposedly written by St Paul in Constantinople on his way to Rome. He had a vision where God told him that all the popes would be speaking His word etc. That led to the Bull of Infallibility (can’t remember the proper Latin name). You’ve probably already noticed the problem – it wasn’t called Constantinople in the first century CE – but it stood for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until the 19th century that someone said, “hey, wait a minute …”. That’s when the 19th century one was done and I’ve come across at least one fairly new priest who denies the existence of the previous one. There’s certainly no mention of it on that website that details official Catholic doctrine.

            If I come up with better details, I’ll let you know.

            • Mark Perew
              Posted December 13, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

              Uh-oh. We need an update to “Istanbul – Not Constantinople”?

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted December 13, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

                Thanks for the laugh Mark!

                And ‘fraid so – before Constantinople it was Byzantium. It was named Constantinople after himself by Constantine the Great in 330 CE.

            • Posted December 13, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

              Hmmm…I think you might be referring to some other bull. Unam sanctam makes copious references to familiar scripture as justification, but it doesn’t, best I can tell, cite any apocrypha. And if it does, it does so obliquely; its case doesn’t rest on anything like that.

              But Unam sanctam does set for the case still used by the Church today to justify infallibility, and concludes with the glorious line, “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

              You know, come to think of it…today’s Poop is downright humble in comparison, arrogant sonofabitch the motherfucker is….

              b&

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted December 13, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

                Thanks Ben. I wish I could remember the details better. It’ll bug me until I do now.

                In fact, Frankie is quite a sweetie when you compare him to some of his predecessors. Of course, we’re back to that previous comparison again – the nice rapist who wears a condom.

              • Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

                Well, when you do remember it, let me know…sounds scandalous, even if it’s not the scandal in question….

                b&

            • Mark Joseph
              Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

              Heather: Are you perhaps mixing up this bull with the Donation of Constantine, which *is* a known forgery?

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

                I could be too Mark. It’s certainly s possibility, but I don;t think so. I’ll feel a bit stupid if it turns out that’s what I’ve done. 🙂 I will let you both know if I’ve f**ked up!

          • BillyJoe
            Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

            You are saying that, that the papal bull is bull, is bull?

            • Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

              Or is it palpable Papal Bull?

              • Posted December 14, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

                Whatever it is, it’s not very palatable….

                b&

            • Posted December 14, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

              And the Poop is bullish on it, too — he wants you to buy bull!

              b&

    • reasonshark
      Posted December 14, 2014 at 3:21 am | Permalink

      “I’m also a bit dismayed at the number of people who are saying this means we have to recognize animals are sentient and therefore we have to treat them well. We already knew they were sentient and besides, surely not being cruel to animals should be taken as read.”

      Does the Pope have reasons for saying animals are sentient? Then we don’t need the Pope to tell us; the reasons are there. Are animals sentient because the Pope says so? Then animal sentience is supposed to flicker in and out of existence as and when the Pope pleases?

      Once you apply the Euthyphro Dilemma to other, non-moral aspects of such ideologies, the results make you increasingly realize how tenuous they really are.

      • chris moffatt
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 6:11 am | Permalink

        Unless a pope is stating something in his official capacity as CEO of RCC Inc. concerning faith and/or morals to be believed by the whole corporation he’s merely giving his personal opinion. This offhand remark about animals is merely his opinion. It means nothing more than that.

        IIRC papal infallibility has only been invoked once since it was confirmed by Vatican I in 1870. The circularity of infallibility is quite amusing. First the Vatican Council defined itself to be infallible. Then it infallibly declared the pope to be infallible.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted December 14, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          You would think, wouldn’t you, that if any pope actually tried to pull the “Because I say so, and when I wear this hat I’m infallible! So there!” line, all the Xmas and Easter, contraceptive-using catholics would sit up and take notice, and really believe he must be correct or the Holy Spirit would never have appointed him. They would take him seriously, wouldn’t they?

        • Posted December 14, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

          This just opens up more questions. Is declaring that a statement was made ex cathedra itself an ex cathedra statement? Or do we need to say some Latin words first and put on the correct garments?

  22. microraptor
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    (I have mixed feelings about PETA, but think they’ve done some good things by calling attention to the horrendous mistreatment of animals raised for consumption or their eggs or milk.

    I would like to briefly address this statement by pointing out that PETA isn’t the only group to have done this, and most of them lack PETA’s tendency toward asinine behavior.

  23. Posted December 13, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    “the Pope’s implication that all animals go to Heaven” and Pliny the In Between’s cartoon reminded me of passage from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own:

    “I thought of that old gentleman, who is dead now, but was a bishop, I think, who declared that it was impossible for any woman, past, present, or to come, to have the genius of Shakespeare. He wrote to the papers about it. He also told a lady who applied to him for infor mation that cats do not as a matter of fact go to heaven, though they have, he added, souls of a sort. How much thinking those old gentlemen used to save one! How the borders of ignorance shrank back at their approach! Cats do not go to heaven. Women cannot write the plays of Shakespeare.”

    http://www.angelfire.com/wrestling3/mgranieri/woolfexcerpt.html

  24. redlivingblue
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    This whole thing brings to mind Michael Shermer’s radio story… Sunday, I had euthanize my best friend in the world, a 17 year old siamese cat named Scsi. I have been a mess emotionally to say the least. The pope comes out with this “pets go to heaven” rubbish before Scsi’s little body got cold. My skepticism was not “shaken to the core” by the coincidental timing of the pope’s announcement. My wife and I now know that we will never see Scsi again, apparently he is in heaven with jesus, while we, as freethinkers, are doomed to burn for eternity. All the while Scuzz will be watching from his lofty perch. Maybe Scsi will put in a good meow for us and get us upgraded to purgatory. May Ceiling Cat bless and welcome Scsi home to his eternal glaring of felids who have passed before the demise of their staffs.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Sorry for your loss of Scsi. 😿

    • rose
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Sorry to hear of your loss.We have a young siamese Daisy, she is fun very active and playful.Has loved going at the christmas tree. Think the Pope was just trying to say a nice thing to a boy who had lost his dog.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        How human of him.

  25. ascanius
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    yesterday sam harris tweeted:

    Dec 12
    Victory is near. All coverage of religion is now indistinguishable from an Onion article: http://nyti.ms/1Dllgq6

    • Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      I asked my office mate if he’d seen the article about the Pope saying animals go to heaven and he asked in all seriousness,”oh, in the Onion?”

    • gluonspring
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know. I think a great deal of political coverage is also indistinguishable from an Onion article, and I often see satire posted as fact on Facebook as a result, but I don’t feel very cheered by that.

  26. George
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Is the idea that non-human animals go to heaven any more ridiculous than the idea that humans go to heaven (and hell and purgatory and limbo and other places like kolob – I think that is one of the Mormon places. Wait – I think the catholic church got rid of limbo.)

    More importantly, what about viruses and bacteria? Antibiotics are murder!!!!!

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Whether viruses are alive is controversial, so antivirals may not be murder.

      • Nell Whiteside
        Posted December 15, 2014 at 5:58 am | Permalink

        Religions are regarded by some as ‘viruses of the mind’ or memes(Susan Blackmore). The rabies virus radically changes the behaviour of the host e.g. human. Perhaps that’s how viruses get to ‘heaven’?

      • GBJames
        Posted December 15, 2014 at 7:07 am | Permalink

        Perhaps killing viruses is only manslaughter.

  27. Dean Booth
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Berstein’s repeated references to Ayn Rand make his article seem unserious. He even lists her in the same sentence with Newton, Darwin and Edison!

    • gluonspring
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Jarring, but not as jarring as people listing Ayn Rand and Jesus in the same sentence, as some politicians are wont to do.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        I dunno, I think she fits in better with Jesus than with the other three.

  28. Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    The fact that this is commanding so much media attention and the fact that this attention is focused on raking these remarks seriously is absolutely insane.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, between that and the attention being given to the visit of the royal whatsis couple to the USA…

      • Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        They really should spend some time asking the royal couple if the divine right of kings applies to royal dogs. If so, are the royal pooches upset that common mutts can be redeemed? And being that both the Pope and kings answer only to divine mandate, how can we sort differences in opinion out? Dog only knows.

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          My head is spinning.

          Or perhaps just rolling over and playing dead.

  29. Steven Obrebski
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    If pooches to to heaven, there must be millions of fire hydrants there.

  30. divalent
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    How about bears, lions, hyenas? Rattle snakes, cone snails, cockroaches, mosquitoes? Tape worms, foot fungus, malaria, E. coli 0157:H7, tuberculosis? Neisseria gonorrhoeae??!!!

    Should we get vaccinated before we go? Bring a gun?

    Inquiring minds want to know so we can make proper preparations for paradise.

    (And how about those obnoxious assholes next door? Do I really have to put up with them for all of eternity in the after life too?)

  31. johnmatthews
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Its looking like most of the quote attributed the pope are false and the story made up.

    http://www.religionnews.com/2014/12/12/sorry-fido-pope-francis-not-say-pets-going-heaven/

    • steve oberski
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      An object lesson on how religions come to be.

      Made up shit, passed on from credulous person to credulous person, and eternally altering and mutating as it travels through time and space.

      Before you know it, you have people repeating tales of virgin births, invisible spooks and reanimated zombies.

    • gluonspring
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Tomorrows NYT headline: Let the animal abuse resume!

  32. steve oberski
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Does this mean that dogs are born with original sin and that Jesus died on the cross for them as well ?

    And how does the immaculate conception and virgin birth figure into all this ?

    The world is waiting with bated breath, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Please do weigh in on this very important issue.

    I tell you, the Catholic church is going to the dogs.

  33. William G
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    As a longtime atheist and longertime vegetarian, I’m disappointed by PETA’s stance here. Furious really.

    “Animals aren’t ours, they’re God’s”? What isn’t God’s? Does God lay claim to hamsters and jellyfish, but abjure cacti and poinsettias? How does that work? Where do sea cucumbers fit in this partially divinely privatized view of nature?

    More importantly, animals going to the afterlife weakens the case for vegetarianism. The ethical case is that gratuitous suffering of feeling creatures is inexcusable. If pigs and chickens get to go to heaven with the rest of us when they die, then being caged in filth and killed at a fraction of fraction of their natural lifespans is excusable. Having your throat slit open is only a minor inconvenience for livestock, and the abattoir does good by sending them to their True Master sooner.

  34. tubby
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    It’s a bit alarming that someone would only consider treating an animal humanely if it has a soul.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      True, but not that different from a religionist stating (as they do, ad nauseam) that atheists have no ground for morality. As you say, “it’s a bit alarming” that someone would refrain from murder, adultery, or theft only because it was written as a command in an old book.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 14, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      It’s a bit alarming that someone would only consider treating a person humanely if it has a soul.

      Fixed that typo for you.

  35. Dionigi
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    “Dogs in Heaven? Pope Francis leaves pearly gates open.”
    Strikes me that all the dogs would run away, they usually do down here

    • microraptor
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      I think a more pressing issue is what happens at the Pearly Gates when all the cats want out?

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 3:45 am | Permalink

        Pearly catflap.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted December 14, 2014 at 10:03 am | Permalink

          Genius!
          Of course, the cats will spend most of their eternity curled up in front of the everlasting fire downstairs, but when visiting heaven they’ll be able to operate can-openers.

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          LOL!

  36. Filippo
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    ‘ “My inbox got flooded,” said Christine Gutleben, senior director of faith outreach at the Humane Society.’

    ‘Sarah Withrow King, director of Christian outreach and engagement at PETA . . . .

    “And only Christian? Islam? Zoroastrianism? Scientology?

    Do they have skeptic outreach directors?

    • gluonspring
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      No need. We already behave decently toward animals. 😉

  37. gluonspring
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Animals in Heaven makes a lot more sense than embryos in Heaven.

    • marvol19
      Posted December 14, 2014 at 2:06 am | Permalink

      …in the same sense that ten times zero is a bigger number than just zero.
      (i know what you mean but i hope you also get what i mean)

  38. BillyJoe
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    “I have mixed feelings about PETA, but think they’ve done some good things…”

    …like these advertisements:

    • BillyJoe
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      …so sorry, I didn’t know that would print the actual advertisement.

    • microraptor
      Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      Sea

      Kittens

  39. peepuk
    Posted December 14, 2014 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    The catholic church didn’t get rid of limbo as some may think.

    It was never an official doctrine but has since 2007 the status of a “possible theological opinion”.

    So they think it’s still possible that unbaptized babies go to the “edge of hell”.

    Our little ones will not be subjected to punishments (that’s very nice), but on the downside, they will not get any personal contact to god (beatific vision).

    I am curious how animals will fit in.

    • chris moffatt
      Posted December 14, 2014 at 6:27 am | Permalink

      Obviously animals will only be able to get into heaven if they have been baptized. Same as babies. That’s authentic RCC Inc. policy.

      • peepuk
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        Maybe they see a business opportunity:

        Baptized Fried Chicken

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted December 14, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

          Do. Not. Get. Them. Started. Puhleeze.

        • microraptor
          Posted December 14, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          Wouldn’t that just be Chik-Fil-Et? (or however it’s spelled- I live in a section of the country it hasn’t expanded to yet.)

      • Posted December 14, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        If that’s the case, they’re going to have to do it Moron-style — post-mortem and by proxy….

        b&

  40. Posted December 14, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the Pontiff was referencing the beliefs of his prior bearer of the name, St. Francis of Assisi.

    ‘pini

  41. Diane G.
    Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    ““Where do mosquitoes go, for God’s sake?””

    This is where they need to resort to the multiven theory of heaven(s).

  42. boggy
    Posted December 17, 2014 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    If he prays hard enough, Pope Francis may, one day open the doors of heaven to all eukaryotes.


%d bloggers like this: