The Fellowship of Life
Oh! for a Church militant!
Last November the Anglican Church General Synod, its 550 members comprising the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, all Diocesan Bishops, many other clergy and laity, debated a Motion calling upon Synod 'to urge Church of England members and others to. . . make more widely known the plight of many animals and birds and to take all possible steps: (a) to make life more tolerable for those creatures, (b) to safeguard species threatened with extinction, and (c) generally to prevent ignorance, neglect, cruelty, degradation and commercial exploitation so far as animals are concerned.'
As some months previously we had helped to prepare the ground for the debate by presenting to all Synod members a copy of Crusade's unique paperback Kingdom of Neighbours, we subsequently asked the Synod's Secretary-General whether any specific action was proposed following the majority vote for the Motion. After two letters, several phone calls and a total delay of six months, we received the following reply:
"We are not proposing to engage in any specific action following the debate at the November 1977 group of sessions of the General Synod. The debate provided an opportunity for the expression of concern in these matters by General Synod members, representing Church people generally. But, as we see it, the principal responsibility for further action in this field lies with agencies such as your own."
The wording of the Motion clearly indicates that the intention of Mr. O.W.H. Clark, the proposer, was to stimulate the Church to act, not merely to express concern. Whilst we fully accept the leading role which the animal welfare movement must play in securing greater protection for animals, nevertheless many much-needed reforms are held back through lack of positive support from institutions and individuals who should be adding their weight - hence Mr. Clark's laudable attempt to involve Synod and thereby the Anglican Church as a whole.
Perhaps we should not be surprised at this lamentably inadequate reply. Our many years of experience in working to stimulate action by the Church has shown us that it is still only a minority of clergy and laity who acknowledge the need for concern about animals' welfare and still less who actively participate in the fight for reforms. Nevertheless, Synod's lack of leadership is deeply regrettable.
Kingdom of Neighbours makes an unanswerable case for regarding kindness to animals as obligatory for every Christian and it should be obligatory reading for every Church member. In his Introduction Canon Hammerton writes: "If we take seriously God's activity in creation we shall want to deal responsibly with the animal creation. St. John said bluntly that anyone who says he loves God and hates his brother is a liar. We could say with equal truth that anyone who says he loves God and at the same time misuses his creation is also a liar. It is not possible to love God and maltreat his handiwork."
To this we would add: "Anyone who says he loves God and yet allows others, without protest or hindrance, to misuse his creation is also a liar. It is not possible to love God and allow his handiwork to be ill-treated."
We urge those of our members who have been supporting Crusade's efforts to influence Christian clergy and laity not to be discouraged but to maintain their efforts to bring about results.
From The Living World no.18 (1978) - journal of the Crusade Against All Cruelty to Animals:
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