A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals
Selections From The Ark Number 203 - Summer 2006
How many times have you met people who have stopped attending church because of the Church’s lack of interest in animals? Many of us have had several such encounters and struggle to find something positive to say to help the Church’s reputation. One can only point to the growing membership of our organisation and the readiness of some clergy to hold blessing services. The lack of response by the hierarchy across the world to letters of polite protest about one animal issue or another is a major cause of disillusion. We all find that. We frequently not even told whether a letter has been received or read. Surely senior office-holders in the Church, with secretarial staff, could at least have the good manners expected of everyone else? However, while isolated voices may not be heard, the more numerous we are – sensible, loyal Christians – who are prepared to express our concerns, the more likely that we will receive a hearing eventually. Pray to God that it may be soon.
Meanwhile, we can all lend support to other worthy organisations and campaigns – for example, getting the parish (and ourselves!) to adopt the Christian Ecology Link’s LOAF principles for all its catering (Locally produced, Organic, Animal welfare-focused, and Fairly traded). Are vegetarian and vegan choices always provided? Has the parish performed an environmental audit, to see how it can be more energy-efficient, and so on? Now is the time to prepare for events around St Francis’s feast day – even a stall with leaflets, Arks and posters, etc would be useful. So often people, even these days, have not really thought about animals – certainly not in connection with their faith. But what most people fear is being hectored, made to feel guilty and obliged to give up something they enjoy. We need to be sensitive, good-humoured and non-judgemental when approaching people, so as not to put them off our message. But then, Ark readers are the nicest people anyway!
As The Ark goes to print, bird flu has reached UK shores. It will not be long perhaps before we shall see the wholesale destruction of perfectly healthy birds and the enforced housing of free-range poultry, plus a general hostility to all avian life by a scared public. That has happened in other countries where the fear of uncontrollable nature has been unleashed. It bears out what the philosopher Mary Midgley says about our ambivalent attitude towards animal life, where we create the moral and symbolic language that makes it easy for people to exploit or oppress the rest of creation. Of course we should approach sick birds with caution and report any to the authorities, but the sooner we do away with vast intensive farm factories, the fewer chances of mutations in the H5N1 virus will occur, and the less likelihood of a pandemic will arise.~DMJ
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