Pope Francis, bless his soul, has recently been reported to have instructed Saint Peter to begin allowing dogs through the Pearly Gates. Although this dogmatic shift may actually be attributed to Paul VI, and there's no sign yet as to whether the decree is retroactive, it's nice to think, assuming they predecease us – which, actually, may be something of an assumption indeed – that our current flock of Goldens will not only have a shot at finding their bliss but will be eagerly awaiting our arrival. Presumably this was not as thorny an issue as, say, women in the priesthood and the new rule doesn't seem too much of a reach given that God's Rottweiler, Pope Benedict, has yet to drop the bone and is waiting in the wings.
Having been raised a Presbyterian, I was unaware that dogs had thus far been barred and grew up with the notion that all God's creatures might gain entry based entirely on a bronze plaque commemorating the scene wherein Heinz, my parents' beloved first mutt, is negotiating with Peter just outside the heavenly portals. This plaque was made by my Godfather, the sculptor Berthold “Tex” Schiwetz, a pious enough man devoted to years of religiously sculptural epiphany in Rome, who went off to his own reward in 1971. Whether or not Heinz, or Tex, for that matter, is still waiting at the gates is something I suppose that only God knows. In perhaps a divinely inspired gesture from the family, the same plaque now adorns my mother's headstone and there's no question as to whether or not she got in.
The fact that none of our pets have been going to Heaven for all these years does make one wonder how bad, in fact, the alternative can be. Apart from all the priests that have found their way to Hell in recent decades and are now busy making everyone down there miserable, if the place is primarily populated by non-Catholics and their pets - together, presumably, with all creatures great and small – maybe it's not much worse than Southern California in September. If Heaven is reserved for pious, petless fussbudgets and proselytizers, then I want no part of it and I'll go straight to Hell.
As I write this Pope Francis is suddenly all over the news and I'd be the last one to have predicted the two of us would ever be so simpatico, even for a day. Apart from being the Holy Birthday, it turns out this progressive Pontiff has been up to his zucchetto in the sort of Geo-politics and international intrigue not seen since the House of Borgia installed one of their own. There's something deliciously ironic about Pope Francis helping to broker the end of our pointless policy towards Cuba, a policy that began at about the same time that our only Roman Catholic President was elected despite the clamor and conviction of the Right that Kennedy's first and last allegiance would be to Rome!
Buon compleanno, Papa, e grazie mille!