Pope Francis endeared himself to animal lovers this week after he was widely quoted as saying that dogs and other animals can go to heaven. Turns out, it was a different pope who said that. The confusion seems to stem from a misleading headline in an Italian newspaper, explains Religion News Service, and the resulting story then got picked up everywhere (including Newser). What Pope Francis actually said last month: “Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us," reports the New York Times. But then things got confusing. An Italian news report suggested that Francis might have been talking about animals and heaven, and its analysis included this quote made years ago by Pope Paul VI, who was consoling a boy whose dog had died: "Paradise is open to all of God's creatures."
The piece was headlined, “Paradise for animals? The Pope doesn’t rule it out.” By the time the story got re-reported around the world in a media equivalent of the game "telephone," it was Francis, not Pope Paul VI, who was consoling the young boy and talking about "paradise for animals." (The Times, for instance, had the incorrectly attributed quote in its original front-page story, but has since appended a correction.) So what does Francis specifically say on the subject? Not much. "A search through the current pope's writings and remarks showed no immediate sign that he has taken a clear position on the question," reports CNN (which also had to correct its original story). For the record, the Times story also reports that Pope John Paul II once said that animals have souls, but at least one site thinks that's wrong, too.