During his weekly address in the Vatican's St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis announced that animals also go to heaven.

"One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ," he said. "Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures."

The 77-year-old leader of the Catholic Church reportedly made the remarks to comfort a young boy who was mourning the death of his dog.

Pope Francis' remarks stand in contrast to the opinions of previous popes who have said that heaven is only for human believers.

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was a known cat lover, but in 2008 he said that animals don't go to heaven.

"For other creatures who are not called to eternity, death just means the end of existence on Earth," he said.

Since assuming the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has frequently made headlines for taking more liberal positions than his predecessors on issues like homosexuality, premarital sex and divorce.

Earlier this year he stated that homosexuals had "gifts and qualities" to offer and he acknowledged that the Big Bang and evolution are real.

His statements that we can one day meet our pets at the pearly gates isn't the first time Pope Francis has shown a love for animals.

In 2013, he blessed a guide dog belonging to visually impaired reporter Alessandro Forlani.

The move prompted people to draw comparisons between the pope and his namesake, St. Frances of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. St. Francis of Assisi believed it is man's duty to be stewards of the Earth and its creatures.

Pope Francis said he chose to be named after St. Francis of Assisi because he was "the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation."

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