The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973


WCC Conference urges respect for animals

An ecumenical conference held at Annecy, France, last month has urged a theology and ethic "for the liberation of life" - including "respect for individual animals."

The conference participants were convened by the World Council of Churches. Their proposed ethic also considers peace and justice, the "integrity of the ecological community," and biological diversity.

Calling respect for animals a neglected topic in Christian reflection, the group in its report says that it is "not a simple question of kindness, however laudable that virtue is. It is an issue of strict justice. In all our dealing with animals, whether direct or indirect, the ethic for the liberation of life requires that we render unto animals what they are due, as creatures with an independent integrity and value."

The group says that the Bible and Christian theology "speak with one voice: animals do not exist for the sake of the unbridled bold pursuit of human avarice and greed." Yet, they observe, "literally billions of animals are made to suffer (pain and death) every year in the name of corporate mass-production and consumer over-consumption."

The group's report outlines several areas of concern - among them the unnecessary use of animals to test and develop cosmetics and household products; fashion trends (notably related to fur products); and food production methods in "corporate animal agriculture" which mean unnecessary "massive animal deprivation and death."

The participants criticise the use of animals in circuses, stage and aquatic shows, rodeos, bullfights, and fights organised between other animals such as cocks and dogs.

Also viewed negatively in the group's report are recreational hunting; "wasteful, needlessly duplicative and poorly executed scientific use of animals"; killing rare and endangered species: and the "compulsory dissection of animals" which is part of traditional rites of passage for children and adolescents in the "affluent world".

The Church Times, 6th October 1988.

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