It was a heartwarming story for legions of pet owners and animal lovers around the world: Pope Francis telling a distraught boy whose pet had died that there was a place in heaven for the creatures we share our lives with.
The comment was widely reported by media outlets outside Italy last week, with dozens of articles appearing in the US. It was veritable catnip to social media, until it turned out the pope had not said it.
The news stories were apparently based on a misreading of remarks Francis made at his weekly general audience at the Vatican on Nov. 26 and on a comment that a past pope did make several decades ago.
Pope Paul VI, who died in 1978, once reportedly said while comforting a child whose dog had died that “one day we will see our animals in the eternity of Christ.”
“There is a fundamental rule in journalism. That is double-checking and in this case it was not done,” Vatican deputy spokesman Father Ciro Benedettini said on Saturday when asked about how the media had run with the story.
Benedettini said he received several calls on the story from outside Italy on Friday and was taken by surprise, because he did not recall the pope saying anything like that.
The Religion News Service was among the first to set the record straight. It said in an article late on Friday that the error appeared to have stemmed from a piece in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Nov. 27, whose headline appeared to have mislead some.
The article recounted the pope’s general audience on Nov. 26, when the topic was the transformation of all creation into a new heaven and Earth. It cited the remark about animals and rightly attributed it to Paul VI, but its headline said: “The pope and animals: ‘Paradise is open to all creatures.’”
The New York Times, which ran a story on Thursday about the purported comment by Francis, acknowledged its mistake, saying in a correction on Friday that it had misattributed the remark by Paul VI to the current pope.
Asked about the mistake, a Times spokeswoman quoted managing editor of international news Michael Slackman as saying: “The correction in the Times notes that the specific content and wording were wrong in the article. However, the pope did in fact make comments suggesting heaven is open to animals.”
In his Nov. 26 remarks, Francis said: “The Sacred Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this marvelous plan cannot, but affect all that which surrounds us and which emerged from the thought and the heart of God.”
He did not refer specifically to animals in the address.
On its Web site, CNN also corrected its story, saying it is unclear what Francis believes about pets going to heaven.
As for what Francis does think about animals, he has not spoken much about them in public, but Benedettini said that from the general tone of his speeches and gestures “it is clear that he is in spiritual harmony with all of creation.”
A CAUTIONARY TALE: Bookseller Lam Wing-kee speaks of the danger that his adopted home Taiwan now faces and the ordeal of his detention in China Lam Wing-kee (林榮基) leaned forward in his chair, answering quickly and sharply to issue a warning to the people of his new home, Taiwan. “Be ready now,” Lam said. “We should be more alert as citizens, we should get ready,” the 64-year-old Hong Konger said. “If they can take Hong Kong back, the next place, I feel, is Taiwan.” Late in Taipei at Causeway Bay Books Mark II, on the 10th floor of a nondescript building, Lam, a wiry, gray-haired bookseller, was sitting at his desk with a bemused gaze behind thin oval glasses. The desk was neat, but crowded with books and a
‘POLICE EVERYWHERE’: A law that would criminalize the publication of images of police officers was passed by the National Assembly and awaits Senate approval Violent clashes erupted in Paris on Saturday as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest against new security legislation, with tensions intensified by the police beating and racial abuse of a black man that shocked France. Several fires were started in Paris, sending acrid smoke into the air, as protesters vented their anger against the security law, which would restrict the publication of police officers’ faces. About 46,000 people marched in Paris and 133,000 in total nationwide, the French Ministry of the Interior said. Protest organizers said about 500,000 joined nationwide, including 200,000 in the capital. French President Emmanuel Macron late
Not enough beds and not enough doctors: a skyrocketing COVID-19 caseload is pushing hospitals in the Balkans to the cusp of collapse, in chaotic scenes reminding some medics of the region’s 1990s wars. After nearly a year of keeping outbreaks more or less under control, the nightmare scenario that the Balkans feared from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is now starting to unfold. In hard-hit Bosnia-Herzegovina, one doctor described the distress of having to juggle the care of multiple patients whose lives were hanging by a thread. “The situation reminds me of the war, and I’m afraid it could get even worse
SIGNIFICANT RULING: That male prisoners are denied a choice as to their hair length suggests they are treated less favourably than female prisoners, the judges wrote Prison staff were wrong to cut the hair of a former Hong Kong legislator known for his long locks, the territory’s top court said yesterday, in the second significant ruling against authorities this month. The decision came as powerful establishment voices called for an overhaul of the judiciary — something opponents fear could muzzle the Hong Kong legal system’s vaunted independence as Beijing cracks down on its critics. The ruling by the Hong Kong Final Court of Appeal is the culmination of a long legal battle by former Hong Kong legislator Leung Kwok-hung (梁國雄), 64, who served a brief jail sentence in