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Pets in Heaven?

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.

For more information on how the Church sees animals in the lives of human beings, check the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2415-2418. You will learn, for example, that the Church, while it condemns cruelty to animals as an offense against the dignity of man, allow experiments on animals if done in a reasonable way.  Again, you will learn of the tremendous difference that the Church sees between the lowliest of human beings and the most noble of the animals.  It will allow animals to be used for food or clothing, but will defend the right of an innocent human being to live against Kings and Nations. The Church will demand that animals be respected as part of creation while at the same time insisting that the dignity owed a human being should never be given to an animal.

Answered by Dr. Richard Geraghty, PhD










28 comments

  1. Jane Schwartz Reply

    I know the whole soul teaching…but I hope my sweet pets show up in heaven, anyway!

    1. Darran Reply

      It’s more than possible. There is a new Heaven and Earth to come. A new Earth means animals. Would it be more like God to create entirely new animals with new souls, or that He would reward the animals that suffered and fulfilled their duty in this life?

      Since God is maximally just, out of these two options the latter has to be true, unless there is a third option that’s even greater.

      In this way, whether or not animal souls persist through death (which isn’t a matter of dogmatic certainty) it doesn’t matter.

      After all, although we as humans can get our priorities wrong, God nevertheless loves these animals with a capacity of love that we plainly cannot comprehend. He will always do the greatest possible good. If we can think of a superior way, God already has one even greater, and we needn’t worry.

  2. Sandra Montalbano Reply

    There are many animals in the Bible, even in Revelation when the horses come down. If there are no animals in Heaven, why are they mentioned in the Bible and how come Jesus is mentioned being on one?

    1. Joe Reply

      In addition to Sandra’s excellent questions, why did God have Noah save so many animals?

      1. Brylle Fernandez Reply

        Because of he didn’t there would be no animals now

  3. Presentacion T.Samson Reply

    Please explain why the Catholic Church uses the Gifts of the Holy Spirit from Isaiah of the Old Testament and not from Corinthians in the New Testament..

  4. Lynn Reply

    If we love animals, don’t you think God loves animals a hundred times more? After all they are also his creation, just like us. This is also evidenced in the Bible as out of all things in the universe, the Holy Spirit chose to reveal himself to us as a dove! I truly believe I will see my pets in heaven, simply because God can do anything He wants. We can explain why animals we not go to heaven using human logic, but in the end anything is possibly because it is God and He always wants us to be happy.

    1. Joe Reply

      Well put Lynn. God wants us to be happy and all our pets and animals in general make us happy. God is great and can certainly do as he wishes for his people.

  5. marianfk Reply

    da sage ich ja absolut – auch die Pflanzen Fauna und Flora – ohne diese biologie kein Himmelreich

    1. Joe Reply

      If possible, could you please translate this to English? No problem if not.

      Thanks!

  6. marianfk Reply

    o.k. @joe I say yes absolutely – the plant flora and fauna – without this biology no heaven

    1. Joe Reply

      Thank you! Have a lovely day!

  7. cyrilmacneil Reply

    I beg to differ ! All things were in Paradise , in total communion with God … ONLY man was expelled , NOT plants and animals … so in fact we rejoin them , no?

  8. Clarke Hudson Reply

    I think the memory of our pets and the enjoyment we had with them will be even more precious in Heaven!

  9. judy groce Reply

    I refuse to believe there are no pets in Heaven. God made a place for each of us for paradise and eternity. For me that includes my fur babies.

  10. micheala Reply

    We must not eat blood.Whose? Animals then? Why? Because blood is precious. Jesus shed his for us.It is special.Ifpets were not special why would it matter.Why does it say tell All Creation?Were not all creatures created by God and Jesus? Why are all feathers counted? Why bother if they are not special and counted?

  11. Mark Reply

    St. Francis also loved God’s creatures. It wouldn’t be heaven if we weren’t reunited with our four legged earthly companions. And any creature that is capable of showing love has a place in God’s plan because God IS love. Why would God allow love to just go away?

  12. sara ramsay Reply

    Did Pope Francis not just decree that animal souls go to Heaven?

  13. Pat hoare Reply

    I think someone’s in for a big surprise when they get to heaven, when all the animals greet them.

  14. Justin Rick Reply

    Every thing that has breath shall praise the Lord. My oldest dog passaed away to years ago and when ever I get sad or start to miss her i feel her presence. I even still hear her bark at times. It does mention in the bible that their are animals in heaven. Yes i believe that our pets go to heaven

  15. mm Reply

    Once in heaven we will not have the needs or wants such as we do here. God created all animals to be on earth and man to care a be over them. They give us what we need. Be it sustinance or comfort. When the bible describes animals coming down from heaven we are meant to see these heavenly messengers in a way we can understand. Remember we can not comprehend all things of heaven in our mortal form now. We trust God in all things and continue to have faith in Jesus Christ and his teachings. If animals are in heaven then God wants them there.

  16. Rita Reply

    The Bible also states that angels are on earth in disguise. I know my animals were angels in disguise. I will see them again. They had more sense than a lot of people I’ve come across.

  17. Colleen Ruffini Reply

    Where is the article

  18. tonestaple Reply

    I believe my priests said that the world will at some point be made anew, entirely perfected. Since animals are part of creation, I don’t see why they would not be part of the perfected world – would it otherwise only be humans and plants? So I still have no idea if animals, including our beloved pets, will be there, but I fervently wish that to be so.

  19. Lynda Laurin Reply

    A creation of God, he loves them and will welcome them into heaven. Why does the church make a major issue out of EVERYTHING!

  20. Byron Hildebrand Reply

    I do believe animals soaks will be in heaven. They were not part of the original sin of Adam and Eve. So were created with out sin and remained so.

  21. greg Reply

    the life force in all forms of life-is the same.life force=SOUL.gradually transmigrate upwardly,hopely,by good works.

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