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Do Animals Have Souls?

downloadQuestion 264

Do animals have souls? Pope John Paul II said yes in 1990. I think St. Francis of Assisi thought they did or that they go to a different heaven. What perplexes me is that others have told me that animals do not have immortal souls. This topic is not my main area of focus in our faith. However, it does cause illogical bickering between many people, including in my own family. If this question is google-searched one will see all the confusion. Can we get a clear answer?

Response

As to the question of animal souls, I think the most that can be said is that various species share substantial forms. As for the two saints, please give citations as I am unfamiliar with any such statements in favor of animal souls. If you are asking if animals have something akin to a human soul then the Church’s answer is NO. Animals do not have immortal souls. If they did then they would be persons. But we do not regard them as such. Despite sentimentalism about cats and dogs, the fact remains that we EAT animals.

This is an entirely separate question from whether or not certain animals might exist in heaven or upon any new earth.  There is speculation about this but nothing conclusive from the Church.  I would propose that our attention or sight will be upon the Creator more than upon his creatures.

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