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From The Ark Number 194 - Summer 2003

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Tyranny, oppression, terrorism, war - does any other species treat its own so badly? And we human beings are often held up as being the ‘peak of creation’! Yet it is to our feeble, sinful hands that the Creator entrusted his whole creation. Our presence on this earth is to be God’s hands and feet - tending, nurturing, cultivating - helping to bring his Kingdom even as we pray ‘Thy Kingdom come’. The Church’s role is to be the focus of that intention, exhorting us through prophetic teaching and preaching to rise above our fallen nature and to attempt to mould our world more closely into one where ‘Thy Will be done as it is in Heaven’. Where the Church fails, it needs to be renewed. In the words of the prayer of St Catherine of Siena: ‘... to your servants the clemency of your Holy Spirit infuses ardent desires for her [the Church’s] renewal’.

Such ‘ardent desires’ are what are felt by all of us who care deeply for the Creation and for all God’s creatures. We feel disappointed, if not betrayed, by those with influence and power within the Church whose vision goes no further than to their own species. Of course we are all moved by the plight of the unborn or abused child, or the innocent human victims of war - but also by the ghastly living death suffered by the factory-farmed animal and equally innocent animal victims of war. And for almost all animals, life under man’s rule is lived under constant oppression and war-like conditions, without ever any cease-fire or reprieve. When they look at us, do they see ‘the image of God’?

One thing that Christian animal advocates can do is to work together wherever and whenever possible. To that end, a working-party, comprised, so far, of members of CSCAW and ASWA (the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals), has begun to meet to work out ways of collaboration and to form a Federation of Christian animal welfare societies. Our service in October in Clifton is one visible joint project. We are hosting this year’s, and ASWA will host one in 2004. Please do support it, and invite your friends from the local churches - maybe you can hire minibuses or coaches together.

Another project we can adopt is to mark the first Sunday in October as Animal Welfare Sunday. This the Anglicans already do (and have some excellent materials to accompany it) and we are asking all churches to do something on that day - even one short bidding prayer. Our President, Bishop McMahon, is trying to have it added to the Church’s Cycle of prayer, which needs the approval of all the Bishops. (So, a little letter to yours ...!) There will be more information in the next issue.

Finally, on a personal note: After several years of part-time study with the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology at Cambridge, I finally achieved the MA in Pastoral Theology with a dissertation on the status of animals in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Thanks to all who sent their good wishes.


Return to Number 194 - Summer 2003

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