The great naturalist John Muir once said that anything we can touch is "hitched to everything else in the Universe." He had many opportunities to reflect on this dictum as he hiked through the pristine wilderness of the High Sierra in the latter third of the 19th century. For him as for Thoreau, the natural world revealed as much of God's glory as any text of scripture.
Some people think Pope Francis opened the door to believing that animals have an afterlife. Speaking of the “new creation” God intends, the pope said, “It is not an annihilation of the universe and all that surrounds us. Rather it brings everything to its fullness of being, truth and beauty.” An Italian newspaper concluded that the pope was broadening the hope of “eschatological beatitude to animals and the whole of creation.” But a retired professor at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome cautioned against that conclusion, saying that there will be continuity and transformation between the new and old creations and that the balance between the two can’t be determined (Guardian, November 27).