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A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals


Selections From The Ark Number 214 - Spring 2010


At a recent public audience, Pope Benedict XVI declared that ‘Only one task is entrusted to every human being: to learn to will the good, to love, sincerely, authentically, freely’. And yet, he admitted, ‘to learn to love requires a long and demanding journey’. He was reflecting on the teachings of a 12th-century monk, William of Saint-Thierry, who taught that love is the ‘main energy that moves the human spirit’ and that ‘Love is awakened by the Creator of nature’. The Pope concluded by encouraging us to ‘to put ourselves then in the school of the saints to learn to love in an authentic and total way. ... With a young saint, doctor of the Church, Thérèse of the Child Jesus, let us also say to the Lord that we want to live for love.’

Does love have limits? Does it suddenly draw itself up at the species frontier and say ‘This far and no further’? Surely, by being awakened by the Creator of nature the loving soul loves all that the Creator has formed, every creature of the one Creator. By love of course we do not mean a mere feeling – it is difficult to feel loving towards some of our own species, let alone slugs and snakes and crocodiles (taking three at random that appear to be low on the human ‘love list’). But love, as the saint describes, is ‘to will the good’ of the other. To love in ‘an authentic and total way’ surely means then that we must will the good of all – of all creatures that share this planet. That is our task as human beings; that is to live for love. Anything less short-changes the concept of love. Let us be patient with those who are still at an early stage in their journey of love – for who can claim to be further ahead than they?


Those of us who write often about the cause of ‘willing the good’ of animals find difficulty with naming ourselves. ‘Animal Lovers’ sounds sentimental, as if it depends on the loveableness of the animals. ‘Animal Rightists’ is unfortunately associated with the tiny number of violent militants, as is ‘Animal Liberationists’ – which is a bit of a misnomer anyway, as subjects of liberation have to liberate themselves, other people cannot do it for them. ‘Animal Welfarists’ implies working to improve conditions for animals, but not radically changing our behaviour towards them. ‘Animal Defenders’ and ‘Animal Advocates’ are rather confrontational terms, with a wiff of drawn swords or law-courts about them, as is ‘Animal Protectionists’. ‘Pro-animal People’ is good, but rather vague, and ‘Animal People’ sounds like people in monkey-suits. Have you Ark readers a better term, or could argue the case for any of the above?  Please let me know.

Meanwhile, let us work for the time when the words ‘Catholic’ and ‘Christian’ would mean the inclusion of all the above terms, without hesitation.

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