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

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Letters

'The Universe' - Letters (1994)



Help those who care about earth

Mark Topping of CAFOD claims problems in the Third World should be tackled through poverty reduction rather than by family planning.

This is the same simplistic negative line CAFOD took during the Rio Earth Summit, making the Catholic Church appear uncaring to people who care about God's earth. Catholic aid agencies should help those trying to extinguish the fire destroying God's earth instead of shouting down the fire bells.

B I Larkin (17/7/94)


Give animals respect

Myself and many others are disgusted at certain parts of the new catechism relating to the care of animals.

Letters from compassionate persons fell on deaf ears regarding the wording on vivisection or animal experimentation.

The relevant section mentions the good and kind St Francis and then says it is perfectly in order for Catholics to use animals for clothing, food, work, leisure and even medical experimentation!

We have been given dominion over the animals and the smaller the creature, as Ghandi said, the more we should love and care for it. Rats undergo so-called medical research promoted by one of the many charities that fund animal research.

Humans are not given rights to abuse animals be it a chicken in a battery cage or a monkey awaiting a transplant.

Cynthia O'Neill (17/7/94)


'Dominion' should not mean cruelty

I entirely agree with Cynthia O'Neill (July 17). I cannot understand why the new catechism has taken this attitude over research on animals. The climate of opinion is changing and there are a great many who feel that animals are not solely in this world for us to use and exploit.

There are many attested cases where animals have saved lives and - unlike us - the domesticated variety have very forgiving natures and do not harbour ill-will. I do hope there will be plenty of protests about the catechism.

Animals have been unmercifully exploited by man - when exported as 'meat' to Europe, for example, or when reared in unnatural conditions, such as battery hens. Our 'dominion' over animals should not mean cruelty, neglect and exploitation.

Olwen Gwynne-Jones (24/7/94)


Don't go too far in animal research

I am sure that I speak for many when I say there is, and rightly so, widespread concern over the ill-treatment of animals. However, as Cynthia O'Neill says (July 17), we have been given dominion over the animals. I think that this entitles us to make necessary use of them to improve the health of God's highest creation, the human.

At times I feel that it is safe to say that we are obliged to use these animals. What is the alternative? Research on human beings? There could soon be a thriving "spare parts" trade in the area of fertility treatment. It is here that we must firmly speak out.

What must be looked into are two areas: is the reasearch necessary, ie to save lives, and have we honestly sought alternative lines of research which will benefit people without harming animals?

Michael J Cowie (24/7/94)


Stop cruelty to animals

We may have been given dominion over the animals but that does not give us the right to abuse them.

Nobody has the right to cut them up alive, burn them, stitch up their eyes and pour acid into them to find out how they react.

The people who do these things are out to line their own pockets, no matter what suffering they cause.

I feel so ashamed that Catholics stand for this. It is an insult to God and St Francis, the animals' saint.

Mrs N P McGrath (28/7/94)


Animals not of equal dignity

I wonder if Olwen Gwynne-Jones (Universe, July 24) has read for herself what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about animals (2415-2418 and 2457).

It is hard to see how anyone could object to its admirably balanced statement, unless infected by the immoderate attitude gaining ground today, which implies that animals are of equal dignity with mankind - or even that man comes a poor second.

The catechism says what it does because it is not concerned with "the climate of opinion", but with the truth. The false attitude, which recoils at the catechism statement, is based on sentiment, ascribing human characteristics to animals, and ignoring how the animal kingdom actually functions - very different from stories about furry bunnies and suchlike.

Olwen Gwynne-Jones does, in fact, show more than a tendency to anthropomorphism in regarding the use of animals for food as "exploitation".

She also remarks upon domestic animals' "forgiving natures", whereas animals, not having immortal souls, nor reason, nor free will, cannot choose virtue or vice, but act entirely by instinct, within the law of their nature, as God intended.

Surely Catholics should be resistant to the current distortions of reality, which all too easily lead to animal worship/nature worship for those with no faith in God.

The Church, teaching with divine authority, should be our guide, not this or that "climate of opinion".

Mrs Susan Carson-Rowland (31/7/94)


It's so wrong to assume

It is always dangerous to make assumptions from a very brief letter on the character/belief/personality of the writer, and Mrs Carson-Rowland (July 31) made a great many such assumptions from my letter.

My letter (July 24) was written to support someone else. It was very brief and not intended as a personal 'credo' from me! I have bred dogs for most of my life but I do not hold anthropomorphic views although I know this is often attributed to people who respect other parts of God's creation.

There is obviously a great deal about which Mrs Carson-Rowland and myself would disagree but this should not lead to the assumptions which she has made about myself and which are quite untrue.

Olwen Gwynne-Jones (7/8/94)

But now what for college hounds?

It was, up to a point, good news that Ampleforth College, the only Catholic school to run a pack of hunting hounds, "may be" disposing of them (Universe, Dec 26), though one shudders to think of what might happen to them.

When a hound's "working" life is finished, what follows is far from pleasant, let alone ethically admirable.

It is interesting that the Abbot "reluctantly" decided that 15,000 per annum from school fees could "no longer be justified".

How exactly did he "justify" it before the number of juvenile barbarians regularly following the hunt dwindled to its present level of "only about a dozen"?

Richard Mervyn Anthony Bocking (9/1/94)
The Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare

'Ability' to kill and poison

I must respond to statements made by Mrs Susan Carson-Rowland in the issue of July 31, concerning an earlier letter by Olwen Gwynne-Jones.

Human beings are, in fact, animals. They are but one species in the wide animal kingdom.

All species are different from each other and, even in one particular species, for example our own, some members are more highly developed than others.

The fact that some are less highly developed than others does not mean that they may be used for the benefit of others. They have the right to their own life, however humble.

Other animals are able to learn by association.

They do forgive, they do grieve, they do feel pain and know fear and all that goes with it.

What other animal species do not appear to do is make weapons of mass destruction - torture, maim and kill in the name of religion, poison and pollute its own environment.

Still, perhaps one has to have a soul to accept, tacitly or otherwise, such atrocities!

Shelagh Dickety (4/9/94)

Think of animals

The catechism says of animals: "Men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St Francis of Assisi or St Philip Neri treated animals." (2416)

I am hesitant therefore about vaccine "derived from animal cells", unless they can be derived without cruelty. Hopefully, we will develop vaccines without causing such suffering.

Dr. Edward P Echlin (16/10/94)

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