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A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals

Selections From The Ark Number 196 - Spring 2004

National Ecumenical Service for the Animal Creation
Clifton Cathedral, October 4th 2003.

A short address was given by Deborah Jones, General secretary of CCA, towards the end of the service.

This is the text, asked for by several participants.

Dear friends and honoured guests,

We are nearly at the end of our service here today in which we have given praise and thanks to God for his wonderful creation. We have also shown our sorrow for the harm our human race has inflicted on the innocent animals God creates and loves. We have sought his mercy and asked God to replace the stony hearts of men with hearts of flesh and feeling.

And they are stony indeed. Who but stony-hearted people could cause the plight of the 50,000 Australian sheep left to drift in the Corma Express on the Arabian ocean for over two months in blistering heat and depleted food stocks, looking for a port to receive them – where the survivors may be put to death – which would, at least, end their ghastly ordeal?

Oh yes, there are people for whom their suffering means not one jot. Any more than they are moved by the agonies that animals are put through in circuses, laboratories, factory farms and battery cages, nor are they touched by the sight of overflowing pet rescue centres, dancing bears – and so on, and so on.

Yet many of these people are our Christian brothers and sisters, encouraged to think of themselves as the whole point and pinnacle of creation

– as if the whole panoply, the living kaleidoscope of the natural world exists purely and simply for our human benefit to do with as we like.

But all who call ourselves Christian, are challenged by the Reverend Henry Primatt, writing back in 1776:

We may pretend to what religion we please, but cruelty is atheism.

We may make our boast of Christianity, but cruelty is the worst of heresies.

We may trust to our orthodoxy, but cruelty is the worst of heresies.

Let us pray and work to rid our Churches of this atheism, this worst of heresies – this sin. For it is sin to impose the power of the strong, for the strong’s sole benefit, onto the weak

– it is sin to consider the other, be it person or animal, as an instrument, an unfeeling object to be used

– it is sin to put one’s tastes and preferences before the real needs of others

– it is sin to abuse the creation for which we have been given responsibility.

So we now implore the power of the Holy Spirit – upon us and all the members of Christian Churches everywhere to reject the heresy of cruelty, to guide us to make right decisions in our daily activities, to encourage us to bring an end to the terrible injustice daily done to weak and vulnerable creatures in our name.

We call on Church leaders to preach the gospel of love for the whole of creation, and we demand of civil leaders to do all that is in their powers to pass laws and regulations that protect and respect all that live and feel.

Then everyone who wished ‘to declare your intention to be on the side of our fellow creatures in the animal world, to offer them kindness and compassion,’ was invited to stand and say together the rite of commitment:

In the presence of the Lord,
and of all of you, my brothers and sisters,
I make this firm resolve
to help- and not to harm -
all living beings who feel pain and suffer distress.
I pledge my support, in so far as I am able,
to the relief of the sufferings of our fellow creatures.

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