A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals
(Formerly: THE CATHOLIC STUDY CIRCLE FOR ANIMAL WELFARE)
Selections From The Ark Number 198 - Winter 2004
Why does PETA, the American-based animal rights campaigning organisation, with many victories to its name, spend money targeting Catholics? Its advertising hoardings, leaflets and Christmas cards display often deliberately provocative images – blasphemous and disturbing. It must think that Catholics are worth it – that if they change their attitudes and life-styles much good for animals must ensue. It is true that there are 1.02 billion Catholics in the world, or 17.2 per cent of the world’s population – so that a pro-animals Church would be a major force for good. If we do not like PETA’s approach, how can we (who are the Church) make a significant difference? By prayer and lobbying, and taking whatever opportunities present themselves, such as Animal Welfare Sunday (why not hold a stall at the back of church with leaflets, Christmas cards and a collection box for pet-food tins for a local rescue centre?), animal blessing services or carol services – with cribs – on behalf of animals. As always with Christian concerns, we must be considerate and polite before taking action – for there is nothing calculated more to antagonise people than boorish or bullying behaviour. We want to win them over, not turn them off.
That is what those few violent hooded militants do who besmirch the cause of animal rights. In the words of philosopher Peter Singer in an article in The Guardian (30 July 2004): ‘When a few people use violence and intimidation to achieve the desired goal, they undermine the animal movement’s ethical basis. In a democratic society, change should come about through education and persuasion, not intimidation.’ However, as he goes on to say, if more were done to find alternatives to the use of animals in research, the extremists would find themselves even more isolated than they are. The researcher-terrorists and the extremist-terrorists are equal in their lack of humanity. And surely what we all need is that the ‘humane’ is put into all our dealings.
At the time of going to press, CCA is preparing a response to the new UK Animal Welfare Bill designed to give pet owners a ‘duty of care’ towards their animals. Although it is an improvement on the 1911 Act which is the main law in use at present, there is still a way to go before the UK achieves the humane standards of the Austrian Government (see p. 49), particularly with farm animals and free-range hens.
There are now 70 members of the CCA in the United States, so letters have gone out to see if they would like to form a US branch. So far replies are only trickling in but the response has been generally good. A US branch will be an add-on, while copies of the Ark will still be sent, so American readers – watch this space!
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