By Margaret Heard
From the 'Forum' section of the former British Union for the
Abolition of Vivisection journal - Animal Welfare (March 1976 edition)
I am writing specifically with regard to your excellent review of
Andrew Linzey’s book “Animal Rights”, but also to say how much I like
the new journal. This edition is particularly interesting and easier to
read in its smaller size.
Regarding the book – it is indeed a
great step forward into the intellectual domain of Theology, and should
do much good. I can see why the author has castigated the established
church so much and I applaud his courage in tossing around so many hot
potatoes (sadly in short supply these days).
However, I am
writing to say a word on behalf of the Catholic Church. I am not
Catholic myself and my views are my own – I am not writing as their
spokesman in any way. But I do admire and know Catholics who have worked
for many years on behalf of animals and I think that the inferred
criticism that their church is the worst should not go unchallenged.
Obviously Andrew Linzey could
only tackle the inner orthodox acceptance of past teachings, and in this
he must be right. But Father Dom Ambrose Agius, for example, and other
priests and members of the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare have
spent many years fighting for animals. Father Agius himself has written
a book in which he clearly shows the other side of the picture and the
opinions of many Catholic saints and figureheads.
It seems to me
from an admittedly limited knowledge of the Church that pure early
Christianity suffered from the influence first of the Romans, with their
inherent sadistic and mechanistic natures, and then of the sweeping
hordes of Barbarians invading Europe, of whom we are the remnants.
Surely real “Catholicism” means all-embracing and now that the
authoritarian grip may be lessening there is every hope that real
Christianity will forge ahead with all non-materialists into a true
The Cathars, or Albigensians, martyred by the
Inquisition in the 13th century, attempted a fusion of
Eastern/Reincarnation-based thought, with pure Christianity, but the
perverts then in power linking Church and the French monarchy were too
Dr. Arthur Guirdham, the psychiatrist, who has written
so much on the Cathars now apparently reincarnating, appears himself to
be very anti-vivisection.
But surely the Catholic church, of the
main Christian movements, is one which retained an inner mystical
atmosphere and inspiration. Their adoption of Mary as a guiding force
was a very civilising influence. When the Reformation came the way was
wide open for the descent into matter, over-balanced masculinity, and a
callous disregard for nature.
I believe we delude ourselves when
we assume that we are superior to the Middle Ages in all respects.
Torture on humans is now widespread – in this century, too, as a matter
of army policy – callous, indifferent treatment of humans in hospitrals,
etc., is not unknown – their sensitivities and need for spiritual
comfort trampled over by mechanistic manipulators intent on gaining
knowledge of matter.
Car accidents, machine accidents in
industry, and various strains and torments of our industrial age, all
create more horror than was ever known probably even in the Middle Ages.
460 million people face starvation while we stuff ourselves with the
tortured bodies of dead animals.
Even the belief that the
Reformation brought freedom from the Church’s domination is a myth, for
now the majority of us are slaves to the State, and everyone is forced
by circumstances to take part in the great war machine whether they want
to or not.
Whilst the Catholic Church embraced St. Francis of
Assisi, some aspects of Protestantism have seemed more intent on
embracing I.C.I. and other symbols of Dinosaur Capitalism.
Indeed, the entire framework of Protestantism and Puritanism channelled
spiritual and psychic energies into money-making activities which
themselves ensured exploitation of humans and animals.
All in danger
We are in such danger now that all
non-materialists should get together before the final deluge of “matter”
over “spirit”. Andrew Linzey’s book should do much good in its own
sphere, for it seems to me that the various religious movements are the
people are the people who should be in a position to recognise
vivisection for the black magic perversion which it truly is.
Reproduced with thanks.
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