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A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals


Selections From The Ark Number 199 - Spring 2005

Ecumenical service, Westminster

The annual ecumenical service for animals was held on 2nd October last year in Westminster Abbey’s church, St Margaret’s. It was conducted by the Priest Vicar, Revd Peter Cowell, and the Rt Revd John Austin Baker, who also gave the address (see p. 17), after which the 400-strong congregation signalled their support by a round of spontaneous applause. Two other Anglican bishops, Rt Revd Richard Llewellin and Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS, also took part. Readers were Revd Hugh Broadbent of ASWA, Ann Widdecombe MP of CCA, and Revd David Sox of QCA. Fr Michael Seed SA of Westminster Cathedral led prayers while a lone bell tolled the seconds to symbolise the number of animals dying in laboratories around the world.

Mr Mark Jepson from Animal Christian Concern played a delightful solo rendition of ‘Gabriels Oboe’ from The Mission and vocal soloist Bene’t Coldstream sang a piece from Handel’s Messiah.

Extracts from the service are as follows:

On the service sheet:

There is something so very dreadful, so satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have neither weapons of offence or defence, that none but very hardened persons can endure the thought of it.

Cardinal Newman (1801–1890)

Where the love of God is verily perfected … a tenderness towards all creatures will be experienced and a care felt that we do not lessen that sweetness of life … that the great Creator intends for them under our Government … To say that we love God and at the same time exercise cruelty towards the least creature is a contradiction in itself.

John Woolman (1720–1772)

The Bidding Prayer

St Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome that the whole creation groans with eager longing for God’s redemption. In our own time, the suffering of God’s other creatures bears heavily upon us, but it is a load we need not bear alone. We gather together today to bring our burden to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of life and death, of the present and the future. Let us share before God our anguish in the face of suffering, our despair in the face of cruelty, and our helplessness in the face of death. In this service let us acknowledge especially the suffering of those thousands of animals which die in our laboratories every year to satisfy our vanity, curiosity and greed; of those enduring experiments of no relevance to their own welfare; of those suffering pain and torment from diseases deliberately introduced into their bodies; and of those which never taste the freedom of the outside world from the moment they are born to the time that they die. And let us pray that through God’s transforming power in the lives of us his human children, his animal creation may be delivered from such misery and pain.

(After a moment of silence)

O God of the desolate and despairing, whose Son Jesus Christ was forced to carry the instrument of his own death, the cross that became for us the source of life and healing: grant that, through the pain we bear, your Spirit may create for us, and for the animals we pray for, a fount of life and a spring of hope; through the same Jesus Christ who died for us, yet is alive and reigns with you and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Let us pray that we may know light and hope in Jesus Christ:
Through our love for Nature,
through our care for animals,
through our respect for every living creature:

All: Father, hallowed be your name.

On our farms and in our homes,
in our colleges and schools,
wherever we deal with other living creatures,
and wherever animal welfare is planned,

All: Father, your kingdom come.

By our exercising a humble dominion,
by our sharing in your rule of love,
by our following Jesus, the servant-king,

All: Father, your will be done.

For the millions of animals and birds,
suffering pain and deprivation at the hands of humans,
for our own need to grow in compassion and reverence for life,
by co-operation, courage and commitment to God’s Peace – the welfare of all:

All: give us today our daily bread.

Because we have broken your commandments,
pursuing our own selfish pleasures and ambitions,
at the cost of our fellow creatures,

All: forgive us our sins.

If any people have mocked, maligned or hurt us in the work we have sought to do for animals:

All: we forgive those who sin against us.

When successes lull us into complacency,
or setbacks prompt us to despair,
when frustration with others draws us into a self-righteous desire to
judge or condemn:

All: lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.
In the assurance of faith,
in the confidence of hope,
in the will to serve,
help us to honour Christ as Lord,
love one another as ourselves,
and bring the good news of redemption
to every living creature.

All: For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

Then all stood for an act of commitment:

All: Loving God, Creator and Redeemer,
we thank you that in Christ
you have reconciled all things to yourself.
May your love so enlighten and empower us,
that we play our part
in bringing your work to completion.
May there be respect for your earth,
delight in the goodness of your world,
true reconciliation,
universal compassion,
and peace amongst all your creatures,
for the sake of your Son,
who died to make us one in you. Amen.

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