It’s one of the most divisive issues of all time; the one question that can make or break a relationship, and the one answer that tells you everything you need to know about someone’s personality: “Are you a dog person or a cat person?”
In the U.S., this is a pretty black-and-white question; there’s not much grey space in between for other animals. According to the latest polls, 70% of Americans consider themselves “dog people” while only 20% consider themselves “cat people” (and apparently another 10% of the population is just composed of heartless beings).
So when Pope Francis came to the U.S. for his first visit ever, of course Americans were waiting to see which way the Holy Father would bend.
In what the Huffington Post called “a historic meeting,” the pope made time to meet the presidential First Dogs, Bo and Sunny, during his visit at the White House. White House photographer Pete Souza captured the event, the New York Daily News reported, and the internet let out a collective “d’awww!”
And then because this is the digital age where social media reigns supreme, of course everyone pulled out their pups’ pope costumes and posted pics to Instagram under the hashtag #popedog.
Perhaps the most wondrous part of the meeting was Pope Francis’s fearlessness encountering the jet-black Portuguese water dogs while he himself was clad from head to toe in his stylishly classic white vestments.
As the New York Times reported, though, Pope Francis’s love for animals doesn’t just end with dogs; he’s commented on the atrocities of livestock mistreatment, and he even blessed a parrot belonging to a former male stripper last year.
On a serious note, his love for animals is actually a major change in the Catholic Church, specifically in regards to his belief that animals can go to heaven along with humans.
“Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place,” he once said, and this single sentiment actually uprooted a belief that Catholics have held for hundreds and hundreds of years.
So what animals might Pope Francis encounter during his stay in Philadelphia? Be it cats, dogs, or even pigeons — the Pope has room in his heart for every tuft of fur and every single feather.