What Does Pope Francis Think of Animals?
Pope Francis is an animal lover, just like his namesake. Because as St. Francis of Assisi said, animals are our “younger brothers and sisters” and we must show them respect. In this article, we’ll tell you a bit about the relationship between the Pope and all living beings.
Pope Francis: ‘All Animals Go to Heaven’
In one of his weekly speeches, Pope Francis issued an extraordinary declaration that got the attention of all animal lovers of the world. It was especially significant for those grieving the loss of a beloved pet.
The Pope said that life after death is not only a gift for believers, but also for animals. According to his words, “The Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us.”
While giving an interview for the Italian news site Repubblica, he also stated that “Heaven is open to all creatures. That is the place where they will receive the joy and love of God, without limitations.”
It is worth noting that Pope Francis’ position on animals is contrary to his predecessor’s (Benedict XVI). Despite his love of cats, Benedict XVI said that an animal’s existence is limited to its life here on Earth.
The current Pope is not the first to show such a friendly and respectful approach towards animals. John Paul II, for example, said on one occasion that “animals have divine breath.” Pope Francis adopted his name precisely in honor of the patron saint of animals. He has already said on other occasions that he is in favor of non-human creatures. In his first homily since being elected as Pontiff of the Vatican, he sent a message to the the laity to spread the word about protecting all of God’s creatures.
Pope Francis: Many Are Compassionate Towards Animals, But Not Towards Their Neighbors
Pope Francis said something else that shocked many. He lamented that there are people who adore and dote on their pets, but don’t show any love to their neighbors. He said it in a general address to thousands in the Plaza de San Pedro.
The Pope said, “How often do we see people greatly attached to cats, to dogs,” but fail to “help their neighbor, their neighbor who is in need… This will not do.”
This does not mean, of course, that the Pope is against animals (as we can see from his other statements) rather that we should be more equitable in our help, solidarity and compassion. This means that the Pontiff puts all sentient beings on the same level.
Saint Francis of Assisi and Animals
St. Francis of Assisi is known as the Patron of Animals and Ecology because of his deeds with the non-human inhabitants of the Earth. The Saint considered animals to be a gift of creation. That’s why World Animal Day is celebrated on October 4th—the day of his death.
St. Francis was born in the Italian city of Assisi and belonged to a wealthy family. However, he decided to divest himself of all material wealth to serve his fellow human beings and all living beings. He was surrounded by animals, and it is widely believed that they obeyed him.
One of the Saint’s stories says that flocks of swallows followed him continuously, forming the shape of a cross. Legend goes that once when going to preach in Alvino, he spoke to the swallows and said: “Swallow sisters, now it is my turn to speak.”
On another occasion, it is believed that he tamed a wild wolf by saying, “Come here brother wolf, on behalf of Christ I order you not to hurt me or anyone else“. And when he was on the mountain praying, a blackbird reminded him that it was time for his midnight prayer.
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