- Activist Feedback
- Essay: Pope Francis and the Powerless by
- This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
1. Activist Feedback
Kathy, who leafleted with Grace at an Acquire
the Fire event in Minneapolis on 3/22, writes:
Grace and I arrived
about 9:15, and started leafleting around 9:30-9:40 as people were
leaving and were finished distributing all 900 leaflets we brought
with us about 10:15. Most of the participants had left by then.
People were pretty receptive, as the crowd came rushing out. Many
people stopped and waited to be handed a leaflet. A few asked what it
was all about and one young person struck up a conversation with me
when the crowd died down and asked why I was a vegetarian. I found out
from her that she knows a lot about factory farming and vivisection
and other issues going on with animals from her school and she said
she is a vegetarian also. Not very many leaflets were left on the
grounds at the event. Those that were, I picked up and redistributed.
It was fun, and I look forward to doing more of these!!
Essay: Pope Francis and the Powerless by Dan Brook
the announcement "Habemus Papam" -- We Have a Pope! -- we learned that
he was the first pope from Latin America and also the first Jesuit
pope. We also learned that he took the name Francis in homage to St.
Francis of Assisi, one of the two patron saints of Italy.
Francis is best known for being the peaceful voice of the voiceless
and the protector of the poor and powerless. St. Francis not only
lived amongst and tended to the poor, but also regularly demonstrated
deep compassion by bringing animals into the flock, blessing them, and
not eating them. As with the other patron saint of Italy, St.
Catherine of Siena, St. Francis was a vegetarian.
"Not to hurt our
humble brethren, the animals, is our first duty to them", St. Francis
preached, "but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission:
to be of service to them whenever they require it. If you have people
who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion
and pity," he continued, "you will have people who will deal likewise
with other people."
As Archbishop of Buenos Aires before being
elevated to lead the Vatican and its over one billion followers, Pope
Francis lived in a regular apartment, cooked his own meals, rode
public buses, visited slums, and decried cuts to the poor. By taking
on the venerated name of Francis, he will likely continue to advocate
for the poor, though he and his Catholic followers -- about 40% of
whom live in Latin America -- could consider expanding their circles
of compassion to include animals, as St. Francis did.
In the spirit
of social justice, Catholics could also learn much from fellow
Catholic Cesar Chavez -- a tireless activist for some of the weakest
amongst us -- who clearly saw the connections amongst human rights,
worker rights, animal rights, and environmental rights. That is why
Cesar Chavez was not only a union organizer of poor farm workers, but
also a vegetarian.
Although being best known for his efforts to
unionize farm workers, he cared deeply for animals, like St. Francis
did. "We need, in a special way, to work twice as hard to help people
understand that the animals are fellow creatures, that we must protect
them and love them as we love ourselves", Chavez implored. "We know we
cannot be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them -- exploiting
animals in the name of science, exploiting animals in the name of
sport, exploiting animals in the name of fashion, and yes, exploiting
animals in the name of food."
Jesus said that whatever one does to
the least of his brethren, "you have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40).
In 1966, the official Vatican newspaper wrote that to "ill-treat
animals, and make them suffer without reason, is an act of deplorable
cruelty to be condemned from a Christian point of view." In 2000, that
statement against animal cruelty was followed up with the Vatican
citing the Catholic Catechism that it is "contrary to human dignity to
cause animals to suffer or die needlessly", linking that teaching to
the unnecessary raising and killing of animals for human consumption.
As Jesus was being taken away to be tortured and executed, he reminded
Peter and the rest of us to put away the sword (Matthew 26:52; cf.
Rev. 13:10), as using violence begets more violence, in addition to
the spiritual violence involved. If one bears the name of Christ or is
otherwise inspired by Jesus, one of the greatest representatives of
compassion and non-violence, then one should not be able to bear the
torture and execution of animals simply to satisfy our selfish
desires. I sincerely hope that Pope Francis and his followers will
also pray with their forks and express compassion to animals, thereby
benefitting their spirits, their health, the animals, and our
Compassion, mercy, tenderness, kindness, love,
reverence for life, peace, and justice should be everyday lived
activities -- which include speaking, working, and eating -- instead
of being beautiful but insufficient thoughts relegated to occasional
rhetorical piety. There is no better time than now to start anew.
Dan Brook lives and loves in the City of St. Francis (San
Francisco). His e-books are available at:
3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
Keep Following Jesus