Plans for pet repository in San Francisco spur theological flap

A San Francisco church is creating a space for pet cremains, in honor of the patron saint of animals. But the project is stirring a theological controversy.

Presidio$presidio-pet-cemetery-photo

An outdoor pet cemetery in the Presidio in the 1990s.

“This is, after all, the City of St. Francis. So when a shrine named in his honor announced plans to build a repository for pet ashes in a catacomb-like hollow under the stairs of its 19th-century church, many animal lovers were elated. Little did they know the plan would stir old-fashioned church politics and deep theological questions. (Is the stair nook a sacred space? Does placement of cinerary urns equate to pet burial? Did St. Francis only care about living creatures?) Now, as plans for the pet columbarium move forward, critics are taking their concerns well up the church hierarchy.”

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

Of course, the voices in my head being what they are, I was immediately put in mind of this lovely story, which I originally heard in Irish Gaelic: [1]

Muldoon was living in the country in Ireland and he had a dog. Muldoon was very fond of his dog, but one day the dog died, and he went to the priest.
Muldoon said, “Father, my poor dog died. Could you be saying a Requiem Mass for him?”
Said the priest, “‘Tis sorry I am, Muldoon, but there’s no Requiem Mass for animals. There’s a Protestant church down the road, God alone knows what they believe. It’s to them you should be going.
Said Muldoon, “Faith and that’s a good idea. I’ll be going there straightaway. What do you think? Would 50,000 pounds be enough for the services?”
Replied the priest, “Damn you, Muldoon! Why didn’t you tell me the dog was Catholic?”

From where I sit, the joke makes more sense than people arguing about a pet cemetery, but that’s just me.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


[1] Original Irish text:

Bhí Muldoon ina chónaí faoin tuath in Éirinn agus bhí madra aige. Bhí Muldoon an cheanúil ar an madra sin, ach lá amhain fuair an madra bás.
Chuaigh Muldoon chun an tsagairt.
Deir Muldoon: “A Athair, fuair mo mhadra bocht bás. An féidir leat Aifreann na Marbh a rá?”
Deir an Sagart: “Gabh mo leithscéal a Mhuldoon. Ní féidir Aifreann na Marbh a rá d’ainmhí. Tá teach pobail nua thíos an bóthar, agus ag Dia atá a fhios cad é an creideamh atá acu. Iarr orthu.”
Deir Muldoon: “Smaoineamh maith atá ann. Beidh mé ag fiafraí láithreach bonn. Céard do bharúil? An mbeadh 50,000 punt go leor le haghaidh na seirbhíse?”
Deir an Sagart: “Damnú ort a Mhuldoon! Cén fáth nár dhúirt tú liom go raibh an madra Caitliceach?”

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