Pope Francis didn’t say pets could go to Heaven after all

Comments reported around the globe were based on a mix-up

Jon Stone
Sunday 14 December 2014 12:28
Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Widely-reported comments implying the Pope had given pets his blessing to enter Heaven were based on a misunderstanding, it has emerged.

News media across the globe, including the Independent, reported supposed comments by the pontiff suggesting that “paradise is open to all God’s creatures”.

Other high-profile publications in the United Kingdom and United States also picked up the story.

The mix-up has been attributed to journalists misinterpreting a report in the Italian newspaper Corriere delle Sera.

The article in question quoted comments by Pope Paul VI in 1978 as background colour, though the main report covered more recent remarks made by the current pope, Pope Francis.

While the newspaper attributed the remarks to the correct pope, the article’s headline read: “The pope and animals: ‘Paradise is open to all creatures.’ ”

“There is a fundamental rule in journalism,” the Vatican’s deputy spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, told the Reuters news agency.

“That is double-checking, and in this case it was not done.”

The current Roman Catholic Pope has not laid out his position on animals in detail, preferring to focus on global poverty.

The mix-up does not necessarily mean that pets do not go to Heaven, however.

Because declarations by previous Pope still stand until they are overruled by new popes, pets may still have access to the Catholic version of the Christian afterlife.

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