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A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals


Selections From The Ark Number 204 - Autumn/Winter 2006


Rev. Fr Aidan Nichols OP

Fr Aidan Nichols is a Dominican of the Cambridge Blackfriars, and John Paul II Lecturer in Roman Catholic Theology at Oxford.

He writes:
I am very happy to endorse the work of Catholic Concern for Animals and The Ark. The doctrine of creation invites us to give appropriate respect to all natural things according to their kinds. The animal kingdom forms part of the – in a broad sense – sacramentality of the cosmos, which speaks of the Creator’s rich wisdom yet tremendous, even terrible, power. When the Church blesses beasts, it is not just for our use. It is also because the first creation will be taken forward, in a manner not at present imaginable by us, into the final peace of the Kingdom. We are, we suppose, far from that day. Yet we should live as congruently with it as human needs and possibilities allow.

Fr Nichols is the fond owner of Leo, a white long-haired cat featured in a book shortly to be published, called Cloister Cats (which we shall, of course, review).

While author of a prodigious number of books on theology, he has also written a chapter which Ark readers would find interesting, entitled ‘The Cosmic Setting of Salvation’ (chapter 11) in Epiphany: a theological introduction to Catholicism (Collegeville, Minnesota, 1996). While this book is currently out of print, it is available in electronic format on  Here is a brief extract (from page 3):

For, while God is disclosed personally only through the human being, his ‘icon’ in the temple of the world, his glory and power are also manifested in other creatures as well. For the Old Testament, God’s Word is effectively active in all created reality; his life-giving Spirit moves over the face of the waters, renewing that earth which the glory of the thrice-holy Lord of Hosts (Isa 6:3) so abundantly fills. Nothing of creation, then, is to be sundered from the history of salvation which the Scriptures describe. ‘From the greatness and beauty of created things, there comes a corresponding perception of their Creator’ (Wis 13:5). Just as Israel enjoys a ministerial role among the nations so, more widely, human beings act as priests of the world. In them the Word of God is addressed to creatures, and in them too, through worship, the mute praise of their existence becomes vocal. The more human beings walk in the ‘paths of the Lord’, in faithfulness to his covenant, the more they can sing with all creation, like the three young men in the fiery furnace of persecution, the praises of God (Dan 3:57-81).

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