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A Publication of

From Number 191 - Summer 2002


Looking through copies of The Ark from its earliest days, in 1935, is both encouraging - and a little depressing.  The encouragement comes from realising how many people, from all parts of the Christian community and beyond, have been involved in helping to relieve the suffering of animals through the years. The depressing part is in realising how far there is to go before all animals can be assured of a life free from human-inflicted suffering.  Each day’s mail delivers newsletters, journals and personal accounts detailing the horrors that human beings inflict on other species.  A few are included in this issue.

Such brutality paves the way for humans to be equally callous with each other.  So animal welfare is a human issue too - the connection between cruelty to animals and the same towards people being a well-documented fact.  For this reason alone, if not for the sake of animals themselves, one would expect the Church to be in the forefront of campaigns for animal welfare.

Who is to propel the Church towards this common goal if not her members themselves?  Is it not our duty to speak up and speak out?  To quote the words of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, admittedly uttered in another context (to the National Conference of Priests of England and Wales, last September):

‘Today the love of the Church is often assumed to mean uncritical silence.  One must not "rock the boat"!  But Catherine [of Siena] could never be silent.  She wrote to some cardinals, "Be silent no longer" ... May St Catherine teach us ... the wisdom and courage to speak truthfully and openly with words that unite rather than divide, which illuminate rather than obscure, and which heal rather than wound.’

At that Conference of Priests, attended by your Editor, several of the clergy expressed surprise at learning of our existence - and yet their parishes contain our members!  There may even be bishops who, if not entirely ignorant of our existence, have not ever been approached to support requests for special services for animal creation, or for animal-friendly pastoral letters or even bidding prayers to be said throughout the diocese, or to add their names on petitions.

One of our bishops (Rt Rev Kieran Conry of Arundel & Brighton) - God be praised - has made the link between human and animal life, in a Pastoral Message on the feast of the Holy Family, newly designated as a Day for Life:

‘It asks us to value all of that life and to stand up then for the dignity and importance of all who have life ... Finally, life is not confined to human life, either. The beauty of the earth on which God allows us to spend the brief span of our lives, this beauty must be respected and preserved.  All life is sacred, and the care of the environment is what God first entrusted to Adam.’

Return to The Ark No. 191 - Summer 2002

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