Media widely misreports that Pope Francis says dogs can go to heaven

Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly audience on November 19, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.Franco Origlia / Getty Images

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story wrongly suggested that Pope Francis said animals go to heaven. It has been corrected and the TODAY broadcast report has been taken down from the website. 

Media reports that Pope Francis suggested that dogs can go to heaven circulated widely on Friday, wrongly reporting the Pope's original statement and the circumstances during which they were said.

Pope Francis never actually commented on the issue of whether dogs will do to heaven. According to Vatican Radio, the Pope said to a general audience (not a distraught boy as originally reported): "The Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us.” 

The misreporting stemmed from a report from the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which interpreted the Pope's remarks to mean that dogs could go to heaven. The newspaper also drew comparisons to a quote from Pope Paul VI, which was then incorrectly attributed by many outlets to Pope Francis.

According to the Italian newspaper, it was Paul VI who had comforted a distraught boy with the words: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.'’  

Many news outlets, including TODAY, NBC News, The New York Times and others, misreported that Paul VI's statements about dogs were said by Pope Francis. The Vatican itself and Pope Francis have not clarified confusion about the reports.

This story was originally published on Dec. 12 at 8:04 a.m. and misattributed comments to Pope Francis and misreported the circumstances of those remarks.