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A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals


Selections From The Ark Number 211 - Spring 2009


2009 is a year full of anniversaries. Eighty years ago a small group of people, lay and clerical, mostly Roman Catholic, had their first meeting, in London, to discuss the welfare of animals and to pray for them. This was the very start of Catholic Concern for Animals. Future issues of The Ark will record the development of this organisation – from its quiet beginnings to the world-wide movement we have today. We are still small, very much so in relation to the size of the Church, but I hope that those forebears of ours would be pleased with what has been accomplished, and recognise the vision that motivates and spurs us on.

This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s shattering On The Origin of Species, and 100 years ago the Danish scientist W.L. Johannsen wrote of genes as the units of inheritance that control the passing of an hereditary characteristic from parent to offspring. Later DNA researches showed that humans share approximately 98.4 per cent of their genes with chimpanzees. These two monumental scientific studies, those of Darwin and of Johannsen, have greatly enhanced our understanding of animals, and of our relationship to them. Modern theology, however, can hardly be said to have kept up with the implications of them – as it still mainly labours under the impression that one species alone – homo sapiens – is all-important. Medieval people thought that the sun revolved around the earth, until Galileo showed otherwise. The Church has apologised recently for its treatment of that scientist, but still largely clings to a man-centred view of the universe.

I am reminded of another anniversary – that of 20 years ago, when the Berlin Wall, that symbol of mankind’s inhumanity, was brought tumbling down. But there still remains an almost impenetrable wall between our species and all others. This is what we in CCA hope to breach, through prayer, study, discussion and debate, and in other lawful, peaceful ways. For only when we realise that we are not the sole object of our Creator’s love and concern, not the sole purpose for the existence of everything else, will we begin to treat animals with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Indeed, instead of seeing all others as existing to serve us, we may come to a full realisation of Christian mission: that we are to serve others – and that includes other creatures – as we are served by God. Only when we adopt a truly humble posture before our fellow creatures, and not preen ourselves as ‘lords-and-masters’, will we reflect our servant-King.
A personal note
This year also marks an anniversary for me – it was ten years since I began working for CCA, and editing The Ark. I wish to thank all those who have made it a decade of real joy for me, and I hope to serve you all for many years to come. . 

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Number 211 - Spring 2009

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