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A Publication of

From The Ark No. 192 - Winter 2002

Editorial - By: Deborah Jones

Young people, animal welfare and the Church

The Church is facing a credibility crisis - particularly with young people. The issues which seem to dominate the Church’s attention are not the ones which occupy the passions and concerns of many of the western world’s youth.

The Church is not alone in failing to connect with a significant number of the under-25 generation. The media patronises young people by implying that all they are interested in is drugs, sex, and rock ’n’ roll. ‘Youth culture’ is spoken of as if young people were all designer-dressed, mobile-phone-obsessed lads, ladettes and louts.

Many, many young people are a world away from that stereotype. At a recent peaceful demonstration in London against factory farming, hundreds of young people showed by their cheerful presence during an arduous march in hot weather that they were committed to this worthwhile cause. Young people are often the first to protest against the abuse of power exercised over animals and the environment.

Their idealism and concern to make this a better world for all who live in it should resonate with all who espouse the values and beliefs of Christ and the saints. St Francis’s sense of kinship with all created beings is a deeply Christian contribution to the discourse on animal and environmental issues. The two are linked - there can be no real animal welfare without considering the natural context, and there can be no real environmental solutions that do not take account of such issues as factory farming, vegetarianism, organic and genetic integrity, etc.

Fish farming is a case in point. It is at once an animal welfare issue - containing wild creatures in an environment where they cannot exercise their natural instincts; and an environmental nightmare - polluting the waterways with effluent, intensive use of chemicals and antibiotics, reduction of the gene pool of healthy stock, etc.

There is disappointment in the latest publication of the (UK) Catholic Bishops’ Conference, The Call of Creation, for failing to make that link. It is all about God as Creator, but implies (yet again!) that all was created for human good alone. In encouraging readers to live more simply it does not grasp the nettle of suggesting a change of diet to vegetarianism which, if the Church were to promote, would be a major contribution to solving world hunger and global pollution. If the bishops are really serious about the ‘call of creation’, let them show their commitment for the whole of creation - including all nonhuman creatures.

After massive investment of labour and resources poured out on our schools and catechetical programmes, the Church still leaves many young Catholics - let alone the ‘unreached’ - cold. They have their interests - the Church has hers. The Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare attempts to bridge that divide - and one way is by producing the publications Junior Ark and Teen Ark. We would appreciate a little encouragement from the Church for what we do. .

Return to The Ark No. 192

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Deborah Jones at The Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare

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