The Fellowship of Life
Many thanks for your letter of the 29 March and you raise a whole series of questions in relation to the way in which human beings treat animals. I have a very great deal of sympathy with what you say, and part of my concern about the fox hunting proposals was that they would address one issue and could well leave the general public feeling that a problem had really been solved, when in fact much bigger ones remain. One of the most hidden is the enormous number of farm animals which are killed or maimed by stray dogs every year. This is a far bigger problem than anything created by hunting.
On the positive side I do think that awareness of the way in which animals are treated is growing and part of that is reflected by programmes on television about the work of the RSPCA, and of other animal organisations. Better regulations are beginning to come in relation to the slaughter and transport of animals and farmers themselves are beginning to express strong feelings and some refuse to sell their animals through particular markets.
I think the scale of the issues which you raise can be mind blowing and can result in us feeling completely powerless. I suppose the antidote to that is to focus on one or two issues or to work with and support a particular organisation like the RSPCA. It won't solve all the problems overnight, but it will give encouragement at a point at which it is needed.
I am conscious that I have not solved any of your questions, but then you knew before you wrote that I would not be able to do that. However, I can support you in your efforts in working for a more just and caring world which embraces all species of creation, not just humankind.
Many thanks for writing, and expressing your concerns.
With very best wishes
Return to Letter to the Bishops - 1998
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