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


No help for dove from above

By Luke Coppen

From The Catholic Herald, July 3, 1998

St Francis of Assisi must have turned in his grave this week as the EU Commission sanctioned a Catholic "religious" rite involving the crucifixion of a dove.

The Commission ruled that the Whit Sunday ceremony, performed by churchgoers in Orvieto, Italy, must be respected as an authentic religious rite.

The Reverend Professor Andrew Linzey, who holds the world's first chair (at Oxford) in theology and animal welfare, attacked the Commission's decision.

"There is no Christian religious rite that sanctions the sacrifice of animals," he said. "The Christian tradition, which grew out of Judaism, repudiated animal sacrifices."

The rite involves the nailing of a live dove to a wheel, which is surrounded with lit fireworks, and is rolled to the door of a church. Local legend says that the dove's condition on arrival at the church is an omen for the town in the coming year.

Professor Linzey, an Anglican priest, described the practice as blasphemous.

He said: "The deliberate infliction of suffering on innocent sentient creatures is nothing less than intrinsically evil. Catholics must be worried that this somehow bolsters the stereotype that to be a Catholic Christian is to be cruel to animals."

Reproduced with thanks.

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