Clayton asked:

Where do animals go after they die?

Jimmy Akin replied:

"... We don't have a lot of information about this. I'm not familiar with a passage like the one you suggested Isaiah has. I don't think that's there, I think that may be a misunderstanding or someone misread it to you ... There is a passage in Ecclesiastes that at least raises the question of do men's souls and the souls of beasts or animals have different fates? But it doesn't really answer the question directly. Over the course of time Christian theologians have examined the question and they've said ok it seems like every living thing has a soul, so if it's alive it has a soul ... That's from the book of James where he talks about a body without a spirit is dead ...

Everything from a one-celled organism ... all the way up to a human being. What the theologians have noted though is that there would seem to be different types of souls. In the case of ... the type of soul that plants have that soul enables them to grow and reproduce, but it doesn't enable them to do things like feel ... That type of soul that plants have is sometimes called a vegetative soul. The type of souls that animals have is called sensitive souls because in addition to allowing an animal to grow and reproduce, it also allows them to feel and have instincts and things like that which plants don't. Then the type of soul that we have as human beings theologians have called a rational soul. Because in addition to enabling us to live and grow and reproduce and feel, and have instincts we also have the gift of reason which is unique in all the creatures on earth. Many theologians have speculated over the course of history that it's only the rational soul, the one that's capable of directly relating to God and understanindg the concept of God that survives death.

... non rational creatures don't survive death. They don't have heaven, they also don't have hell, they just stop. That's certainly a common opinion theologically. It's not to my knowledge official Church teaching ... And certainly if God wanted to, if he wanted to have animals have an after life he could arrange that. I think because we don't know a lot in this area we should leave it up to God and not fret about it ... because whatever God's decision is on this matter we know he's a just and merciful God, and so whatever fate he arranges for animals it's going to be just and merciful."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2014)

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of the answer provided. For the complete response download the podcast.

Click icon for archived podcast answering this question in its entirety.

Show air date: January 30, 2014

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 4:05

Social: Share:

This site is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

"...and upon this rock I will build My Church..." Matthew 16:18