The Fellowship of Life
Man has a clear duty to be a wise steward of this world and that includes animal life.
It is equally clear that to relish wanton deliberate cruelty to
an animal is a sin; it is a sin against ones own human nature. I can
concede that there is a question mark over the morality of some
intensive farming techniques. They do not on the surface appear to
respect the God-given dignity of the beast involved.
That said, there can be no rational Christian basis for much of
the assumptions behind the popular support for various anti-hunting
and anti-blood sport societies. To hunt, to kill, to husband, to
prepare, to cook and to eat, are merely facets of one activity of an
It can be no more immoral to enjoy the kill than to enjoy the
The whole anti-hunting scene is riddled with irrational class
prejudices. For example, the deep sea fisherman is a sort of folk
hero - no one would seriously suggest that he should not enjoy his
craft. Yet, in terms of numbers in the kill, he is probably the most
efficient hunter on God's earth. A fox-hunter who kills a mere
handful of pests in the course of a year, is regarded with
widespread moral indignation.
Faced with such contradictions the anti-hunter seeks a
utilitarian escape route. It is alright to hunt, so the argument
goes (provided one is suitably miserable while doing so) out of
necessity; by which they mean food.
But food is not the only necessity of life, but more importantly
the argument collapses because meat is not a necessary food. Man can
live perfectly healthily without meat, indeed, many economists would
argue that it is an inefficient way of feeding ourselves. We eat
meat for the same reason that the rich wear animal furs, we prefer
it to the substitutes.
The enjoyment of hunting is not a fruit of the fall, the whole of
nature was red in tooth and claw from millions of years before man
came on the scene.
To hunt and be hunted is part and parcel of the unity law of
creation of which God is the author. A Christian is one who looks
upon creation and sees that it is good.
It is surely a peculiarly arrogant twentieth century sectarian
religion which attempts to impose upon the creator its own morality
and to create God in its own image.
G E Moorhouse
In reply to G.E. Moorehouse, November 5, can there be any doubt
whatsoever that chasing a stag for miles until it is either brought
down by dogs or, mercifully, it has a heart attack and dies before
the dogs get to it is against God's will for all creatures, whether
stag, fox, badger, otter, indeed any creatures? Here, again the
horse in the bullring suffers just as much agonising pain as the
bull. Surely Mr Moorhouse we have enough pain in the world without
adding to it.
I am sorry you doubt my word on the "Carnival of Death" as it is
called. Small animals and birds are tied to stakes and stoned to
death at a village in Southern Spain called Los Llandos, but it does
occur elsewhere. Obviously good sir, your travels in this beautiful
country have not been as extensive as perhaps you or I would have
I was saddened to read G E Moorehouse's letter defending
blood-sports, November 5, although I agree with his statement that
meat is not necessary for food.
Without engaging in a philosophical argument on the undoubted
merits of the animal rights movement, I should just like to make the
point that Catholics who uphold the manifold abuses to which God's
animals are subjected by man, do a grave disservice to our religion.
On the subject of bloodsports, the Rev Basil Wrighton (Chairman
of the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare) has written, "Where
it is a question of cruelty, the utmost rigour is the only true
charity. It should hardly be necessary to add that charity, at least
in the form of compassion, is due to all beings that can feel
pleasure and pain, and not merely to human beings..."
I would have thought the argument about "the undoubted merits of
the animal rights movement", Eileen Ryan, (Nov 12) is the very point
that needs to be explored. I can't see many myself, but I certainly
would like to see what "animal rights" enthusiasts have to say.
I can't put it better than what John Naughton wrote in The
Listener Nov 11 after watching "The Animals Film" on Channel
Four: "Nevertheless, I remained essentially unmoved. For although I
suppose I am as fond of animals as the next carnivore, and although
I abhor the idea of bunnies testing our cosmetics for us, I still
cannot work up much enthusiasm for the animals' cause. Nor can I
understand why there should be such a gathering wave about the
issue. Could it be, one wonders, that what is really going on is
what psychologists would call displacement activity - a subconscious
diversion from even more disturbing and intractable problems of
R M Hatcher
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