Thursday, September 25, 2014

Do animals go to Heaven? (What the Catholic Church teaches)

This is Tina, a dog much beloved I had in my childhood

Do animals go to Heaven?  This is something that many folks wonder about.... 

 Here are a couple of interesting links on that subject:


From Catholic answers:

Finally, a convert to Catholicism - Jimmy Akin's answer, : (this is a video)

Following is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
 2417    God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image.198 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives. (2234) 2418    It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons. (2446)
Finally, a scholarly article on the subject includes the following:
"A question that comes up frequently is whether people will see their pets in heaven. Now 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."

"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. A thing which has no physical parts cannot fall apart or be poisoned or be crushed or be put out of existence. 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.  And the souls of the damned will be aware of themselves as never attaining this vision of God because they have shown by their lives on earth that they did not wish this vision but instead preferred their 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.  There is, then, an incomparable distance, say,  between the soul of the sorriest human being who ever lived and the most noble brute animal that ever walked the earth..."
"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.  I suppose that 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. For we know that when a person finally sees God,  he will not be concerned with seeing old pets or favorite places but rather will be captured in the complete fulfillment of the joy of which old pets and favorite places are but little signs. We adults know that, even if the child does not."
Answered by Dr. Richard Geraghty, PhD*

In Summation - we can respect and love animals but must never equalize them with humans for only humans are created in the "Image and Likeness of God" and are destined for Heaven. In short, in Catholic theology: Angels are created beings who exist without a physical body, humans are created beings who can exist with or without a physical body and animals are created beings which cannot exist without a physical body.
* Note: Dr. Richard Geraghty is professor of philosophy at St. Joseph’s House of Studies, the college-level facility of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, at EWTN. Prior to coming to EWTN, Dr. Geraghty taught philosophy for 18 years at the University of Dayton, Providence College, and St. John’s College Seminary. Dr. Geraghty earned his BA in philosophy at the University of Dayton, an MA in English from Ohio State University, and his MA and PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto, where his thesis was entitled "The Object of Moral Philosophy According to St. Thomas Aquinas."


Sue Joan said...

We had a comment from an anonymous NON Catholic declaring the answers from Catholic experts here to be incorrect based on this NON Catholic individual's opinion. Needless to say, I did not see the relevance of this opinion.. :)

Sue Joan said...

"Bono Maly" aka Peter wrote to me again (the non Catholic who had written me previously) declaring that even though he's not Catholic - he wanted to tell Catholics that yes, their animals would be in Heaven and he gave a couple of Catholic opinions. One of them was from Fr John Harden, SJ (whose causes are being considered for beatification). Fr Hardon opined that "If you need your animals to be happy in Heaven, they will be there." This is basically what another priest said also. The third opinion was quite vague. Bottom line was to not upset those folks who like animals (especially those who like animals better than people). They might have figured this wasn't worth upsetting people about but really, Catholic beliefs suggest that we won't need animals in Heaven to make us happy as we will be taken up in the Glory of God. And keeping in mind that animals may not have immortal souls and thus this life might be all they have, would actually, I feel, inspire us to be nicer to animals and make this life as nice as we can for them and NOT do things like euthanize them when they become inconvenient etc. Just a thought. Thanks for reading my blog and for the feedback.

ThatOneWriterM said...

Hello, I am Catholic and I must disagree. Almost every article I've read against animals being in Heaven cites that ONE scholarly article (frankly, I've almost memorized it from hearing it quoted so much). I would really enjoy it if you used a different article and someone else's opinion for this. The Church does not definitively say either way, so I believe that while we can have opinions either way, there is no way to be sure and therefore the correct response to "Do animals go to Heaven?" is quite simply "We don't know."

Sue Joan said...

Got a couple of more comments assuring me that although there is nothing in the catechism and it makes sense that ONLY HUMANS have immortal souls, they "know" their animals will be in Heaven with them. How much of this "outcry" is , I wonder, because they have euthanized animals dismissing the issues with it by saying "oh but I'm sending them to "heaven" and how much of this outcry is, I wonder, because some folks like animals (who don't have free will and can't talk back) better than humans and the thought of heaven with "only" humans is horrendous to them? Well, to those folks, I suggest you get to like people better so that if and when you go to heaven you will enjoy it there! (smile)

ThatOneWriterM said...

I have never euthanized an animal....