Animal Padre's
Christians Against All Animal Abuse
"Christ’s redemption is for the whole of creation!"

From the Autumn - Winter 2007 Issue

Precious in the sight of The Lord is the death of his saints

‘Precious in the sight of The Lord is the death of his saints’. Such is a quotation from the psalms, and I’m sure that it’s not confined to those marble faced type canonised by past pontiffs. Yes, and thankfully, during the century that has just gone, many of these ‘saints’ were thrown out after centuries of veneration All part of the reforming work of good ‘John the 23rd’! Not the result of senility as some quite uncharitably supposed, but rather because of his desire to bring about a reformation within, which went well past any medieval council of Trent.

Some of the saints I, myself, have in mind were those within the cause of animal liberation; and some of them were, indeed, far removed from one’s traditional profession of faith. I think of Jill Phipps and of Barrie Horne. I’d offered to conduct the funeral of the former, before Coventry cathedral’s provost intervened with his rigid conditions;  and I’d made a one-man protest outside the York hospital of the latter! However, the general opinion of animal rights activists towards Christian clergy hardly endeared them towards my own feeble efforts for their cause. After all, these two comparatively young folk would, literally, lay down their lives for the animals; reminiscent of far off ‘good shepherds’ prepared to lay down their lives for sheep and used by Christ as His supreme analogy

Indeed, let us not forget also the sacrifice of her life - for the animals - of Vicki Moore! Tossed repeatedly by a frenzied bull after the latter had been repeatedly stabbed and goaded, Vicki – momentarily carried away – had jumped over in to the ring to acquire close ups of the barbarity taking place. Yes, a true saint whose memorial service was in Liverpool’s Protestant cathedral as she had ultimately turned her back upon the Catholicism which had nurtured her but had quite inconsistently supported bullfights!

Vicki, of course, was not alone in openly criticizing her own churches apathy – nay support! – for bull fights and similar blood ‘sports’. We must never ever forget Hans Fishinger whose rebuke of his own church was most vehement. Indeed, the way he slated Cardinal Rattsinger over the New Catholic Catechism was reminiscent of a John The Baptist. Of course, he was not alone. Several devout members of the Catholic Study Circle For Animal Welfare assured me that they would terminate affiliation to their church should Rattsinger ever become next pope.  Well, he did! But they haven’t joined another. For them it’s been, I sense, a matter of ‘better to stay with the devil you know than the ones you don’t know’!.

One also thinks of true Anglican Michael Sutcliffe. Yes, as mentioned in a previous News Letter, he had the marks and breeding of a true English gentleman and was, consistently, a practising Christian in every way. And why should I be on such a subject as the discussion of deceased ‘gems’ such as these?  Is it because I’m typing this start of the newsletter after Armistice Day: a day when we remember the massacre of thousands of soldiers, seamen and airman? A day when, annually, we remember such tragic human casualties and deaths; yet prefer to forget the abominable suffering of so very many horses in battle, not to mention mascots and birds!  I tell you – that for me - it’s more than that:

Though several books might refer to “the animals’ padre” – yes, in one fashion or another! - only one has been dedicated to me: a small book, fully reflecting factors I have stood for, in scripture and theology And its dedication by the beautiful author Regina Hyland – a true saint ‘recently promoted to glory’ – now quite wrenches my heart when ever I read it:

     ‘This book is dedicated to the Reverend James Thompson, an Anglican priest known as “the Animals’ Padre”. In both his ministry to the animals and his ministry to people, he has always chosen to follow the Gospel of Christ rather than the doctrines of men.’

Yes, I can only say that it was with intense sorrow and heartache that Doreen and I learned of the sudden and unexpected demise of the Reverend Regina from Sarasota. Here again we have a lady who, after being cradled in Catholicism, underwent a deep spiritual experience ultimately leading to her inception into the American Pentecostalist ministry (not to be confused with much of the Pentecostal fundamentalism of the UK!). But, even then, her first book to be published: ‘Sexism Is Sin’ would eventually result in her ostracism from that same movement. And, no doubt, this would be accelerated by her involvement in perceiving a place for animal rights as consistent with divine revelation. The fact is that, though an ordained Pentecostalist, her depth of academic learning appeared to have made her, in my own mind, to be more consistently a full-blown Unitarian than representative of, a largely, fundamentalist movement

Yes, Regina in her early seventies, had become very much akin in theology to myself, and I cannot thank Jesus enough for every remembrance of her. Also – like myself – she was  much indebted to Hans Ruesch and the pioneering work he did for animal rights. Appropriately, in her same compact and yet profound publication she uses the ‘Acknowledgments’ section to highlight a kindred spirit who’d ‘passed over’ before her self:

      ‘I would like to acknowledge the pioneering work of Hans Ruesch, author of Slaughter Of The Innocent and Naked Empress. His integrity and refusal to yield to self serving speciesm in the struggle against vivisection is unsurpassed – and, for the most part, unmatched.’

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