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Is there a heaven or hell for pets?
According to our Pope Francis, God’s paradise is open to all of His creatures. He said this to a boy who was holding his pet dog that had died just recently. This means that it includes not only the human beings but also the pet animals, the wild animals, the insects and everything else that has a soul.
Although, Pope Francis’ statement was conflicting with what the former Pope Benedict the XVI said before. He said that when animals die, they just die. And according to the beloved Pope John Paul II, animals have souls. It is safe to assume that they have different beliefs and views regarding the matter but it doesn’t give us a clarification if animals do have souls and if they go to heaven.
Okay, it is hard enough to think about our beloved pets not going to heaven when they die. For a pet owner who loved their dog too much that statement is just cruel. But let’s get a little deeper to understand better and to know whether or not pets, or rather animals, go to heaven.
Do animals have souls?
The answer to this depends on how we all define a “soul”. In Greek, soul is known as psyche and in Latin, it is known as anima. To Christians and pagans, souls are generally a part of a living creature that makes them disparate and distinct compared to non living creatures that does not possess souls. That is to say, a soul is known to be the “principle of life” of a human being and other living creatures.
If we believe that a soul is the principle of life of the living creatures then we should also keep in mind that animals and plants also possess souls as these are living creatures as well. They grow, they live and they die, just like how human beings are. If you notice, plants grow beautifully when you take care of them and they even grow more beautifully when you talk to them while doing so. Animals grow fond of you when you make them feel your love and that they could trust you with their lives. They are loyal to people who does not hurt them and they know how to love as well as we do. So if you come to think about it, yes, animals do have souls.
What is distinctive and special about a human being’s soul?
If we’re all one in this and we all believe that human beings, animals and plants have souls then it is important to know that we do have different kinds of souls.
A plant’s soul is known as the vegetative soul and this allows them to reproduce, even without a human’s help, and to acculturate and absorb sustenance and nutrition to enable growth and development. Stones and other non living things could not do that.
An animal’s soul is called a sensitive soul. They can do what the plants can do as well, like naturally reproduce on their own and sustain themselves with food and nourishment to grow and survive. Their soul allows them to do so much more though, they could move around, they could see, smell, hear, touch and taste everything that a human can and they can respond and learn simple ways of communicating with other living beings.
Above everything else though, a human soul is the most unique and special of all. Why? Because we are all made in the image and likeness of God and he gave us souls that allows us to be logical, sensible and intelligent with the ability to reason out and communicate fluently and brilliantly with each other. And the greatest part of having a human’s soul is that you have your own free will that enables you to choose between the good or the evil. It is believed that the souls of the human beings are immortal spirits and they will always subsist and be around eternally.
Given this knowledge, humans are the only beings in this world to ever understand and experience love in its fullest sense. They have a choice of knowing more about God and creating a relationship with Him. No other living beings could do that, only the ones who possess the human soul.
Given the fact that animals do have souls, do they go to heaven when they die?
The Catholic Church, when asked, did not exactly give out a straight answer about it. But if you think about it, human beings do have a privilege that no other living beings, animals included, have. One of the known privileges of man is heaven and most Catholics believe that animals do not share that with us as they have a mortal soul that dies along with their bodies when they die. Unlike the human soul which does not perish and come to an end when detached and dispersed from our physical bodies when we die.
But of course, there is a possibility that God would grant them, as what we call, the preternatural gift. This is known to be an animals privilege given by God himself that is beyond and exceeding an animal’s essence and disposition. He will choose some animal souls and let them enter heaven alongside human souls.
Whatever the case is, all we know is that animals cannot actually have consecrated and blessed grace, that is being on one’s soul, to be given and obtain the blessed, heavenly and holy vision. If for some reason, there are some animal souls in heaven, then the reason that they are there is not similar and likely to the reason why human beings can enter heaven.
But what can be the other reasons for it? It might be because God actually wanted our beloved animals to be part of our life in heaven so that we could achieve the eternal happiness that we have always wanted. Although, we cannot be certain about this and for now all we could do is to speculate until we, ourselves, arrived in heaven when the time comes.
So if ever you have lost a pet and you are wondering whether or not they go to heaven, you can think of the fact that God love all of the creatures he made, be it human beings, animals or plants, He loves us all and He will never let us go in darkness and live in fear. You can entrust your beloved pet or loved one to Him as He will be the one to take care of them in the after life. This could be the most comforting thing or message that you can receive when you lost a beloved pet.
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