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


The Church and Animals

by Jose Parry - Co-ordinator of the Christian Consultative Council for the Welfare of Animals

Readers will recall the article "Synod Delays Hunting Decision" which appeared in Wildlife Guardian, Summer 1990. A year on, the Church of England has published its keenly-awaited statement on creation - Christians and the Environment, to which the League Against Cruel Sports contributed evidence. The report was circulated to members of the General Synod for its meeting at York, in July, as a miscellaneous paper. It was therefore not on the agenda and was not brought forward for debate. The Archdeacon of Colchester expressed his concern over the inadequacy of the report during the debate on the agenda.

The contents of the statement and the way it has been "launched" demonstrates once again the Church's nervousness about frankly and openly debating animal welfare issues. League members were very disappointed by events at last year's summer session of Synod, when the Archdeacon of Colchester's Animal Protection Motion was out-manoeuvred and replaced by a vaguely-worded amendment focusing on the 'living environment' instead of animals and their welfare.

The Christian Consultative Council for the Welfare of Animals (CCCWA) organised a fringe meeting at the Synod to mobilise support for action on animal protection matters and in a small way to make up for the absence of a debate in Synod itself. The occasion was a first step towards getting another more precisely-targeted motion brought before Synod.

The fringe meeting entitled "God's Covenant: The Duty of the Church Towards Animals" was held on July 13 at York University and was attended by some fourteen Synod members together with a number of other guests. At the invitation of the CCCWA the Bishop of Salisbury and the Archdeacon of Colchester spoke most cogently to the meeting.

The Council is currently preparing proceedings of the fringe meeting which will be a transcript of the presentations by the guest speakers and of the discussion which followed. They will be available shortly. Such was the interest among those attending the meeting that it was agreed that the Council should shortly organise another such event to foster further debate and to carry the cause forward.

If animal issues are to be properly debated by Synod and action taken to stop animal abuse on Church-owned land then it is essential that a fringe group of Synod members be established. The sense of the meeting was that it will be necessary to identify a confident, energetic and committed Synod member to take up the baton from the Archdeacon of Colchester, who has informed us that he must reluctantly give up his leading role but will of course continue to give the matter his full support. Tactically there may well be a need to address each of the specific animal issues, one at a time.

Forthcoming changes in the chairmanship of the Church's Board for Social Responsibility and its environment Sub-Group open up opportunities for influencing changes in policy. The Archdeacon of Colchester is following up suggestions made to him by the Bishop of Gloucester, who is relinquishing the chairmanship of the Board. The proposal is that the Board should consider holding a consultation day with the new chairman of the Environment Sub-Group (Revd. Dr. John Polkingthorne), the secretary of the Board, interested and appropriate members of Synod and representatives of animal welfare groups.

The CCCWA, from now on, will be holding regular fringe meetings and one-day seminars. The Council is very grateful for the support of the League and hopes for similar support in its continuing campaign to bring about change within the Church of England on animal protection issues.

From Wildlife Guardian, Autumn 1991 - journal of the League Against Cruel Sports.

Reproduced with Thanks.

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