Some people think animals do not have souls....
Animals do have souls.
It is written in traditional books on Catholic Teaching -- even St. Thomas Aquinas -- that animals have souls. In our modern time Pope John Paul II eloquently spoke of the animal soul. The following excerpt is taken from
http://www.all-creatures.org/ca/ark-186soul.html which is: Catholic-Animals, The Ark, A Publication of The Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare.
"When Pope John Paul II declared in a public audience in 1990 that 'also the animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren," some people must have thought this was a new teaching, unaware of the Holy Father's scholarly familiarity with the authentic Hebrew texts. When he went on to state that all animals are 'fruit of the creative action of the Holy Spirit and merit respect' and that they are 'as near to God as men are,' animal lovers in the audience were ecstatic! The Pope mentions the special relationship of mankind with God as being created in His image and likeness. 'However,' he goes on, 'other texts state that animals have the breath of life and were given it by God. In this respect, man, created by the hand of God, is identical with all other living creatures. And so in Psalm 104 there is no distinction between man and beasts when it reads, addressing God: '. . . Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled; thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.'
"This discourse caused a stir around the world, and was especially encouraging to Catholic animal welfare groups which had begun to despair that anything 'animal friendly' would ever be heard in Rome. The then professor of theology and dogma at the University of Urbino, Carlo Molari, called it 'very important and significant. It is a "sign of the times" because it demonstrates the Church's desire and deep concern to clarify present confused thinking and attitudes towards the animal kingdom. There should be no need, but the Pontiff, in reiterating that animals came into being because of the direct action of the "breath" of God, wanted to say that also these creatures, as well as man, are possessed of the divine spark of life and that living quality that is the soul. And are therefore not inferior beings or only of purely material reality.' "
I'm not sure (someone will contact me if I'm wrong) but I think it is in Evangelium Vitae that Pope JP II wrote: "The Creator's omnipotence is shown both in calling creatures into existence from nothingness and also in maintaining them in existence. As quoted in the Book of Wisdom 11:24-26, His omnipotence shows His love who, in creation gives existence to beings different from himself, and at the same time different among themselves. The reality of His gift permeates the whole being and existence of creation. To create means to give, and especially to give existence. And he who gives, loves. God loves all things that exist, and loathes none of the things which he has made, and He spares all things, for they belong to him, the Lord who loves all the living."
The quote from the Book of Wisdom (11:24-26) Pope JPII referred to is:
"For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned. And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things; because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things!"
Every time you see the word "creatures" or "creation" in the Bible, animals are among them.
I doubt St. Francis saw the animals as soulless, and Padre Pio loved animals. I'm going by memory but when one of the friars came into the refectory with a bird he had killed, Padre Pio said, "St. Francis wouldn't do that." Pio allowed a neighborhood stray dog to park himself outside his cell until it was time to go to bed, and only then did Pio send him off. He sent a dog to protect one of his spiritual daughters, who slept in a shack on the mountainside. I have been to San Giovanni Rotondo often, and there were always dogs about the church and friary, as if in their collective memory they know Padre Pio was and is present...
My sister and I are animal lovers--we have had dogs, cats and birds all our lives. Every time I look into the eyes of a dog or cat, I see a soul. I once heard a priest say in his homily that animals have no feelings. What? When a fireman recently rescued puppies and brought them safely away from the fire, the big mother dog trotted over and licked the fireman's face. Just the other day a big dog was pulled from a deep hole, where he had fallen. The strong rescuer put her down gently and patted her reassuringly, and the dog looked up at him and licked his face. Some years ago, Tabitha, the cat, went back and forth into a burning building to rescue her kittens, and was severely burned on her face and body. The firemen saw what was happinging and rescued the remaining one or two kitties. All were eventually adopted. Some years ago a German Shepherd jumped forward and took the bullet meant for his fellow policeman and was in critical condition. The officer stayed with him in the big cage all through the crisis-recovery, and the dog survived, knowing of the love beside him. I have seen homeless people ignored by us humans, with only a loyal, homeless dog for company and consolation. When Kuwait was liberated in the First Gulf War, an American civilian hid in a tight cupboard-like compartment for weeks with his dog, waiting for the day of rescue. They shared what little food and water there was and the dog knew to keep quiet and not bark when Saddam's soldiers searched the house. When the rescue came and they were transported somewhere, the dog was somehow separated from his master, and the man felt terrible that he could never find the dog again. He went on many radio shows back here in America, talking about the loyalty and companionship of that dog, and his sorrow was redolent in his voice.
In thinking that animals are not important, we have reduce the execrable crimes against them to nothing at all. Crimes against animals -- from the worst cruelties (arrows found in their heads, cigarette burns on their bodies, a group of puppies buried alive and miraculously found) to production-line euthanasia -- only numb our sensibility and take us to the next step, and the next, and it's simply a smooth transition of action to do the same to human beings.
If you look closely at animals you will find the mystical. . . I have seen in our dogs and cats that they might have secrets permitted them by God--indeed, they seem to know there is a God. It always amazes me, however, that people think if you love animals, you don't love humans, as if God's love and compassion is boxed in!!! If God created the heart and its compassion, it is meant for all. I don't know how to turn it off.
On November 4, 2013, I posted the following on Frank Rega's blog discussion on whether we will see our pets in Heaven. (http://divinefiat.blogspot.com/2013/11/will-we-see-our-favorite-pets-in heaven.html#comment-form)