In shift from previous position, Pope Francis says dogs can go to heaven but only with rigorous fasting and penance 

VATICAN—In yet another shift from his predecessors, Pope Francis announced Wednesday that dogs can go to heaven, but only after a life of penance and mortification to make reparation for their sins. 

“Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures,” the controversial Pontiff told a young boy who wandered on stage during a papal address, distraught over the death of his pet dog. “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ.” The Argentinian Pope continued, “Of course, we’ll only see them in heaven if they enter into the ascetical life to purge themselves of selfishness and greed.” 

The Pope’s remarks are viewed by many as a departure from previous Catholic doctrine, which since the time of Pope St. Paul VI has viewed the salvation of dogs as guaranteed, like the salvation of their human masters. 

“Philippians 3:2 tells us to “watch out for those dogs, those evildoers,” clearly warning us that some dogs are indeed sinners who stand, sit, or rollover in need of redemption before being admitted to the heavenly dog park,” Francis said. He then went on to elaborate on the kinds of asceticism that would characterize a canine that is authentically “working out its salvation with fear and trembling.” 

“Obviously, we should see them departing from sin—no more peeing on the carpet or failure to come when called. Then, I’d hope many would start such practices as self-flagellation, sleeping on a hard piece of wood, or fasting from all food for a day or two every week in order to really start atoning for their previous sins and the sins of the whole canine world.” Reporters observed the Pope cast an accusing sideways glance at his new puppy, Rex, before turning back to the young boy and asking if his dog did any such disciplines. 

When the boy finally managed to say “no” through his tears, the Pope made it clear his dog was in hell: “He’s with the cats now.”

Originally published Oct 3, 2020