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



'The Universe' - letters (1982)

  1. Cruelty to animals - (Mrs) Yvonne M. Phillipson (15/1/82)
  2. Cruelty to animals - (Mrs) Gillian Bender
  3. Christ's choice - (Mrs) Nora Barry (19/2/82)
  4. Animal lovers - (Mrs) Anne Spikker (19/3/82)
  5. Horrible fate of dogs - (Mrs) Nora Barry (16/4/82)
  6. Cruelty to animals - (Mrs) M. Phillipson (7/5/82)
  7. Our cruelty to animals - Phillida Ball (14/5/82)
  8. Saving animals...and saving lives - Dr. Gill Langley
  9. A right to proper respect - (Mrs) G M Bender (6/8/82)

Cruelty to animals

Sir, - I am very shocked that the Church appears to be so unconcerned about cruelty to animals.

For example, the cruel practice of leaving unwanted puppies and dogs to roam the streets in the freezing cold when they have ceased to give pleasure over the Christmas period, or they have been unwanted in the first place.

There are shocking tales and pictures of dogs trussed alive in Far East countries waiting in the burning sun to be killed.

Animals are also sent to the Continent for slaughter in poor conditions.

I have been a Catholic for nearly 12 years now, and I cannot even remember the welfare of animals being mentioned in any Bidding Prayers at services I have attended, even on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.

A few years ago, I sent a Christmas card to a priest who thanked me for it, but added that he did not agree with Christmas cards sent from animal charities.

It is true, I believe, that no act of cruelty to animals is condemned in the New Testament, but let us remember that the Gospels were written nearly 2,000 years ago when man inflicted great cruelty to his fellow man.

This, of course, still goes on, but at least the Church speaks out against it.

Fortunately there are now many international animal welfare societies working in the Near and Far East, but the cruelties are still carried on.

I have travelled quite a lot in the East, so I know what I am talking about.

We members of the Church, clergy and laity alike, should not forget that all animals are God's creatures.

Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the book of our Buddhist friends and have great respect for any living creature.

(Mrs) Yvonne M. Phillipson (15/1/82)

Cruelty to animals

Sir, - I heartily agree with everything Mrs Yvonne Phillipson wrote (January 15) on cruelty to animals and add to her list intensive factory farming, the keeping of hens in inadequate battery cages with slatted floors and the dreadful manner in which they are transported to the food processing plants and killed by methods which don't bear thinking about.

Also the conditions and treatment in slaughter houses for cattle, sheep, and pigs are vile and cruelty is rampant. Factory farming is defended as a social necessity as every social evil of modern times is defended.

Then there is the insatiable fur trade. The price of a real fur coat is a slow, agonising death for the rightful owner, and completely unnecessary as all types of simulated furs are available if its warmth that's required and not kudos.

There is also the wholesale slaughter of whales, seals, and dolphins, some hunted to extinction. It takes nine ghastly hours for a whale to die with an explosive harpoon inside it.

There are all the useless, sadistic blood sports, such as hunting, badger baiting, and bull fighting. Fox hunting has rightly been described as "the pursuit of the uneatable by the unspeakable". As most hunts breed their own supply of foxes for killing their claims of controlling pests are untrue.

Probably the vilest cruelties of all take place in the closed and secretive vivisection laboratories where over 100,000 animals die every week, all species of animals, including pets stolen by crooks. In the name of medical research, and without anaesthesia, preposterous experiments are carried out and with the specific infliction of pain.

In the multi-million vested interests of commerce animals are poisoned to death, but not quickly, with weed-killers, paints, oven cleaners, polishes, lipsticks, shampoos etc.

The latter are tested in animal eyes which can't blink or close because the lids are removed and nor can the animal move. Dogs are immobilised and force-fed masses of detergent while fully conscious, then opened up for the effect on their gastric juices to be noted to produce the infamous Biological Washing Powders that "digest dirt and stains!"

Fr Basil Wrighton, MA, speaking on vivisection and the abuse of animals in general said: "Cruelty is the most satanic of sins, the least excusable and the furthest from redemption."

The great mass of Christians are slow to throw in their lot with us animal loving "cranks", and we are accused of not caring about our fellow humans which is as untrue as it is unfair.

To me it seems a poor, niggardly heart which can't stretch in compassion, love and mercy to embrace all God's creatures to the greater glory of God who did not despise the presence of the animals at the birth of His Son for they were not driven out, and if He doesn't put such love for them into my heart I don't know where it comes from and I can no more forbid this to myself than I can cease to pray to Him.

If anyone wishes to join me in a short prayer for animals daily at 9am and 9pm please write to me.

(Mrs) Gillian Bender, Member of Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare

Christ's choice

Sir, - I was very interested to read in The Universe a letter from Mrs Yvonne Phillipson regretting the Church's seeming unconcern regarding cruelty to animals.

Such cruelties must indeed sadden our Maker, particularly as we note that He chose to be born among animals.

We would do well to note also that He did not choose to put the Sign of the Cross on any man, but rather He put it on the donkey, which carried Him.

(Mrs) Nora Barry (19/2/82)

Animal lovers

Sir, - I applaud the contents of the letters from Mrs Gillian Bender and Mrs Nora Barry (February 19).

I have looked in vain in the Catholic press for support for various pleas in the national press for help for animals in dire distress.

Surely we Catholic animal lovers have a right for our causes to be highlighted along with the many other worthy causes.

Can we look forward to your co-operation?

(Mrs) Anne Spikker (19/3/82)

Horrible fate of dogs

Sir, - I was delighted to read (Universe, March 26) the publicity you gave to the horrific plight of the dogs, sold for human consumption in the Philippines.

It is to be hoped that many thousands of letters of protest will go off to Cardinal Sin. What a wonderful thing it would be, if we Catholics succeeded in stopping this horror, where everyone else has failed.

(Mrs) Nora Barry (16/4/82)

Article: Appeal to end cruelty to dogs

Cruelty to animals

Sir - I would through your paper like to thank all those people who have so kindly written to me after my letter on "Cruelty to animals" was published by you.

It is encouraging to know so many people care. I have since written to His Holiness Pope John Paul and Cardinal Hume, asking if students in seminaries could be taught that all cruelty is against the Christian way of living, and this includes cruelty to animals.

I would like to thank The Universe for publishing this letter in the first place.

(Mrs) M. Phillipson (7/5/82)

Our cruelty to animals

Sir - I would like to draw readers' attention to the 'Animals Film' (showing at the Gate, Bloomsbury, London).

This documentary demonstrates clearly the extreme cruelty and degradation that modern man inflicts on millions of animals a year in Britain alone, particularly through our factory- farming methods where the proper care of living creatures is completely denied for economic reasons.

(Or, as Ruth Harrison writes in her book "Animal Madness", cruelty is acknowledged only where profitability ceases.)

Most people, even 'non pet lovers' would be disturbed if they knew their neighbour kept a pet dog or cat imprisoned all its life in a cage barely larger than its own size. Yet apparently, they have no objection to the vast business of factory farming in which animals are reared in similar distressing and miserable conditions in order to end up as food on our tables.

Perhaps even more distressing is the five million experiments performed on living animals each year. This includes the blinding, burning, poisoning, mutilation and the inflicting of electric shocks.

Many of these experiments have little scientific justification other than that of academic routine, or for endless new industrial and cosmetic products, and for testing the effectiveness of the latest discoveries in biological and chemical warfare.

If one was to replace the animals in the 'Animals Film' by human beings it would make one of the most ghastly horror films of needless terror and torture.

After all, animals also have nervous systems that enable them like us to feel pain, get stomach ulcers and behave neurotically if put under prolonged stress.

Is it not time we examined our attitudes, as Catholics, to the way we treat other species in God's creation?

As a recent convert I am dismayed by the apparent lack of any significant concern or interest in the moral issues of animal welfare and food production in the Church. If a being suffers how can there be any moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration?

Phillida Ball (14/5/82)

Saving animals...and saving lives

Sir, - While we welcome the discussion of the issues involving animal experimentation and legislation in your newspaper (Westminster Week) there were errors and misconceptions in Backbencher's article.

There is a considerable amount of research to develop alternatives to animal experiments, much of it sponsored by small charities such as this Trust.

In testing for drug side-effects for example, one of our grant-holders is researching the use of human red blood cells for toxicity testing.

The thalidomide tragedy did not illustrate the necessity for animal experiments. Thalidomide was tested extensively on animals by every method then known, and was passed as safe for human use.

Animal tests of foetal deformities were not carried out, but even when it was known that damage was being caused to human babies, scientists failed to duplicate these results in animal experiments until they had tried several different species and more than twenty different strains of rabbit.

The moral is that the number of animal tests required to ensure safety would be too time consuming and expensive.

Alternative techniques, not involving animals, quicker to use and more relevant to humans, are required. This Trust is helping to develop them.

Finally, it is indeed the government's fault that a new Bill to replace the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act is unlikely to be introduced this session, as promised.

There is absolutely no need for the government to wait for the Council of Europe's Convention, for any country may have national legislation more stringent than that contained in the Convention - which is likely to be very weak.

Dr. Gill Langley - General Secretary, The Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research

A right to proper respect

Sir, - The late Cardinal Heenan wrote: "Animals have no rights, so to speak, in their own right, but they have very positive rights because they are God's creatures. God has the right to have all His creatures treated with proper respect. Christians have a duty not only to refrain from doing them harm but also to do them positive good."

On animals St Francis of Assisi taught: "Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission to be of service to them whenever they require it."

Pope Paul VI loved the humble and weak and among those he loved were the animals. He said at a general audience in October 1972: "Animals are the smaller part of creation, but one day we shall see them again in the mystery of Christ."

Countless numbers of well-loved saints gave their protection to animals and birds and welcomed their companionship, taming the most timid and the most fierce.

When God gave man dominion over the animals He intended man to protect them and to use them with a merciful sovereignty, not a merciless tyranny. We do not have the right to exploit them for our own indulgences.

Consciences shelter behind 'respectable' fronts like medical research and scientific testing.

In the mad rush for esteem in organ transplant surgery, doctor scientists have produced two-headed dogs and performed head swaps on living dogs and monkeys with the aid of life-support machines.

The nations bow down to the multi-million pound chemical, drug, meat, milk and dairy industries and their accumulation of wealth and power.

(Mrs) G M Bender, SRN, SCM (6/8/82)

Catholic Concern for Animals:

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