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


In defence of animal welfare

Bishop Agnellus Andrew and five other religious leaders have written a letter to The Times expressing grave misgivings about the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Bill. In the letter, published on 22 February, Bishop Andrew, who is president of the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare, recalls that legislation passed in 1876, on the urging of Cardinal Henry Manning, Archbishop of Westminster, had caused subsequent dissatisfaction and that Cardinal Manning and others had even regretted that the bill had become law.

The letter applauds the government's honouring of its election promise to update animal welfare legislation, but says that "the bill in its present form is seriously inadequate". In particular, the bill, which was debated by the House of Commons last week, failed "to deal adequately with inflicting serious pain on animals". Further failings of the legislation were that it allowed experiments for trivial purposes, such as non-medical cosmetics; included a clause protecting the secrecy of animal experiments; and did not provide for a sufficient number of inspectors to supervise licensed establishments. The letter calls for the bill to be suitably amended. "As Stewards of Creation, we feel a moral duty to concern ourselves in this matter", the letter says.

The five people who signed the letter with Bishop Andrew were Bishop Clark of East Anglia, the Rt Revd Derek Bond, Anglican Bishop of Bradwell, the Rt Revd John Baker, Anglican Bishop of Salisbury, the Methodist Leader Lord Soper, and Rabbi Lionel Blue.

In comments to The Tablet last week, Bishop Andrew expressed his concern "not only about the Bill itself, but about the widely held belief that Catholics are very lacking in this area". He quoted Cardinal Heenan, who said that animals had "very positive rights because they are God's creatures . . . We must say that God has the right to have all his creatures treated with absolute respect". The current Bill worried him, he said, because "it has very few prohibitions and too much about this 'control' is left to the Home Secretary and his team".

From The Tablet dated 1 March 1986

See: Letter to The Times:

Return to Articles


Homepage/About Us

What's New







Your comments are welcome

This site is hosted and maintained by The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation
Thank you for visiting