Last weekend I was privileged to attend an inter-church Conference
in Edinburgh on "The Integrity of Creation". The Catholic viewpoint
was put by his Grace Patrick O'Brien, the Archbishop of St. Andrews
Despite his assertion that he was speaking with authority, the
Archbishop's statements were strongly overlaid with personal
opinions which must have distressed and confused many. He proclaimed
that he would not pray for a pet dog if it was ill. Why not? What
Heavenly Father would not view with compassion a prayer for one of
His creatures? For many of those in his audience, whose one faithful
companion on earth was a cat or a dog, this was uncatholic, uncaring
and thoughtless. What earthly father ignores his child's cry for
help for an ill pet?
Secondly, while accepting the integrity of creation in
theoretical terms, the Archbishop had clearly not thought through
its consequences. Several of the panel plainly felt doubt as to
whether there would be animals in heaven, despite God's stated
concern for his creatures, from cattle to sparrows - and despite the
more normal statement that we don't know, but should we be unhappy
without them, they will be there!
Be that as it may, what a compassionate pastor should have told
his flock was that, unless we respect God's creatures we may never
get to Heaven to solve the problem!
Director, British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare