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A Publication of


From The Ark Number 189 - Winter 2001


Dear Editor,

Thank you for the excellent issue of The Ark and I think you are right to open it up with some ‘difficult’ points of view.  Let’s hear them.  The ‘animal’ beliefs of other faiths would perhaps be an interesting area, if you feel you could go that far without upsetting what would now be called, trendily, ‘core supporters’.

When the late Fr Joseph Rickaby SJ said ‘Man alone speaks.  Man alone worships’ I’m sure it didn’t sound as bad (then) as it does now.  We know a lot more about animals now, especially about their feelings and powers of communication.  Also, everything the Church said, in his day, was terribly dogmatic and could be very harsh, on any issue.  We live in gentler times, in that respect anyway.

A couple of sentences from our eucharistic prayers seem helpful here:

from Eucharistic Prayer III: ‘Father, you are holy indeed, and all creation rightly gives you praise.’

from Eucharistic Prayer IV: ‘United with them [countless hosts of Angels] and in the name of every creature under Heaven, we too praise your glory, as we say Holy, Holy, Holy.’

‘In the name of every creature’ - isn’t that a great thought for the Ark, that at Mass we can express the praise that all creatures give, and need to give.   I’m absolutely no liturgical scholar, so I don’t know if these words were in the Latin Mass of Fr Rickaby’s day, but he might have been less rigid in his statement if he had stood at the altar and used our modern EPs.

My feeling, as a long time Ark member, is that we wish to build a proper relationship with ‘animals’ - meaning all creation.  And we want the Church to guide us, just as it guides us into a proper relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and with each other.  The Church seems to have been slow to appreciate that we need to relate to animals (rather than just to order them about); it has left it to individual Catholics and, even more so, other Christians like Albert Schweitzer to give us guidance.

So we seek to prompt the Church to give us that guidance, which we believe it has in its treasury, but it’s got locked away somewhere and needs to be dug out!


Hugh Paine

(Thank you, Hugh. Have other readers views or ideas on any of these, or other, points? Mark your letters ‘For publication’- Editor.)

Return to The Ark No. 189

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Deborah Jones at The Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare

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