by the Rome correspondent of the Catholic Herald, 13th July,
A new book published in Rome promoting the theory that Christ was
vegetarian is provoking lively biblical debate here this week.
Religions and Animals in Noah's Ark, by the priest of a central
Rome parish who invites his congregation to bring their pets to Mass,
elaborates the historical "evidence" that Christ shunned meat, even the
traditional Jewish Paschal lamb.
Mgr Mario Canciani alleges in the book that the Vatican ignores such
proof and is conspicuous by its "absence" in the campaign to combat
animal cruelty. He intends to follow publication of his book with a
campaign of his own to abolish Easter Bible readings from the Book of
Exodus describing the sacrifice of the lamb from liturgy. Christ
officially abolished the sacrifice of the lamb with the bread and wine
of the last supper, Mgr Canciani writes. He cites early Christian
scholars who wrote that the apostles Peter, James and John followed the
According to St. Girolamus, meat should be banned from the table on
account of the advent of Christ. The book adds that a fourth century
Christian philosopher wrote: "meat is the nourishment of demons".
Mgr Canciani recalls the 314 AD regional Council of Ankara which
chastised Christians for 'refusing to eat meat even if it is hidden
Even the ancient Roman scholar, Pliny the Younger, referred in his
writings to early Christian vegetarians who were persecuted because they
ate "innocuous foods".
Vegetarian Christianity recorded its first martyr in 385 according to
Mgr Canciani. The Roman convert, Priscillianus, was decapitated along
with six others for refusing to eat, and therefore buy, meat.
Mgr Canciani's theory, however, has not convinced Vatican biblical
scholars. Mgr Salvatore Garofalo, one of Rome's most respected biblical
experts and don of holy scripture at the Lateran Pontifical University,
contested the possibility that Christ was vegetarian.