The School of Compassion
A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals
Deborah M Jones
In The School of Compassion Deborah M Jones engages
with the Catholic Church’s contemporary attitude towards animals. This
is the fullest sustained study of the subject in that faith tradition.
The book begins by exploring the history of the Church’s ideas about
animals. These were drawn largely from significant readings of Old and
New Testament passages and inherited elements of classical philosophies.
Themes emerge, such as the renewal of creation in the apocryphal
legends, in the Desert Fathers, and in Celtic monasticism. The
spirituality of St Francis of Assisi , the legal status of animals, and
liturgies of the Eastern Catholic Churches also shed light on the
Church’s thinking. The British Catholic tradition – which is relatively
favourable to animals – is considered in some detail.
The second part of the book provides a forensic examination of the
four paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which
relate particularly to animals.
Finally, major contemporary issues are raised – stewardship,
anthropocentrism, and gender – as well as key ethical theories. The
study then revisits some teachings of Aquinas, and explores doctrinal
teachings such as that of human beings created in the ‘image of God’,
and, with a nod to the Orthodox Tradition, as the ‘priests of creation’.
These help form a consistent and authentically Catholic theology which
can be viewed as a school of compassion towards animals.
The joy of this book is that it helps Catholic
Christians to re-engage with the issue of animals by utilising the
riches from within their own tradition….And what Dr Deborah Jones has
discovered is a remarkably more complex, infinitely richer, and
considerably more animal-friendly Catholic tradition than might be
supposed by the usual caricatures.
This book is the fullest systematic treatment of the
moral status of animals within the Roman Catholic tradition. It is the
result of painstaking scholarship, wide reading, and, most of all,
insightful theological exploration.
Revd Professor Andrew Linzey
Deborah M Jones is general secretary of the international
organisation Catholic Concern for Animals and a Fellow of the Oxford
Centre for Animal Ethics, with a doctorate in animal theology. She has
also worked as editor of the Catholic Herald, deputy editor of
Priests & People, as a writer and lecturer, and diocesan adviser for
adult religious education.
978 0 85244 731 4 256 pages £14.99 Publication August 2009
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