Culture of Life
Why Do Catholics ...?
Do dogs go to heaven?
BY The Editors
October 21-November 3, 2012 Issue | Posted 10/15/12 at 4:30 PM
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church does not directly address this question. But it does hold principles which lead us in the direction of an answer," notes EWTN.com. "One principle is that all living things have a soul. Here, ‘soul’ is defined as what makes an organic body live. Now, when any living thing dies, its soul is separated from its body. In the case of plants and animals, the soul goes out of existence.
"But in the case of man, the soul remains in existence because it is a spiritual or immaterial thing. Consequently, it differs from the souls of animals in two important respects. First, it is the seat of intelligence or reason. For this reason, a man is held responsible for his actions in a way that animals are not. Secondly, the soul is immortal. … For this reason, the souls of the saved will always be aware of themselves as enjoying the vision of God for all eternity. This enjoyment will be the result of having chosen to act on earth in such a way that one did the will of God rather than one’s own will. …
"In the light of this essential difference between human beings and animals, it would seem that we would not see the souls of our pets in heaven for the simple reason that they do not have immortal souls and are not responsible for their actions. They do not have the intelligence which allows them to choose either God’s will or their own will."
As EWTN.com adds, "Now, a child might be heartbroken at the thought that he will never see his pet again. He cannot yet understand this explanation about the difference between the human and the animal soul. … One could tell the child that when he hopefully gets to heaven he could ask God to see his old pets if he still wished to. There would be no harm in that."
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