What price theologians? Their utterances are not "ex-cathedra"
(infallible), so we are free to disagree with them. Their names are
not on everybody's lips: "noted" theologians become "eminent" only
if they hit the media with scandal.
Take the case of JR, the 19th century theologian whose name means
nothing to the man in the pew, let alone the man in the street
today. He held outrageous views on the subject of animal welfare,
diametrically opposite to those held by Cardinals Newman and
Manning, both superior to him socially and intellectually.
Newman held that animals would survive death in a "happy
hereafter", and both of these gigantic Churchmen of the last century
roundly condemned vivisection - flatteringly called "research" - in
no uncertain terms.
Which of these ecclesiastics is the least likely of the three to
have been connected to the hotline of the Blessed Trinity?
Notwithstanding the spiritual calibre of the two cardinals - or
perhaps because of it - the views of JR appear to have been
preferred by the seminaries. "Animals," seems to be a dirty word,
not to be mentioned in church or cathedral. Some ecclesiastics
indeed react to "animal rights" with speciesism as venomous as the
racism of a Boer reacting to "Kaffir rights".
Fr John McDade's commentary in The Universe (November 13),
is not as bad as that but he really must beware of appearing to give
qualified support to the obscenity of vivisection. There is NO
"moral dilemma". Vivisection is based on the world's oldest and most
dangerous heresies: might is right, and the end justifies the means.
No amount of the forked tongue, double-talk sophistry will alter
THAT.Indeed, JR used the same argument against the post-mortem
survival of the animal soul that the materialist could use against
human immortality. Beware, too, of quoting Aquinas.
Not many years ago, the Pope warned Italian research workers that
animals at the service of man must not be abused. Clearly he does
not regard "use" and "abuse" as synonymous when applied to animals,
as is the case with too many professional scientists.
Richard M A Bocking