12/12/2014 08:23 EST | Updated 02/11/2015 05:59 EST

Pope Francis tells boy whose dog had died that heaven is open to all

Pope Francis suggested recently that even animals have a place in heaven, while trying to soothe a young boy during a public appearance at the Vatican's St. Peter's Square. 

"Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures," he told the boy, whose dog died recently.

- ANALYSIS | Pope Francis turns up the heat on church's future — behind closed doors

- ANALYSIS | Has 'rock star' Pope Francis really launched a revolution?

“One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ,” said the leader of the Catholic Church, according to Italian news sources. 

The Pope made the comments at a weekly general audience at the Vatican.

Pope Francis has consistently made headlines with sometimes controversial remarks after assuming the papacy in 2013.

The 77-year-old has adopted more liberal positions than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, stirring up tensions with conservative Catholics on issues such as homosexuality and single motherhood.

Francis's papal name comes from St. Francis of Assisi, the church's patron saint of animals and the ecology.