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


'Catholic Herald' debate (1982)Letters

Animal 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 intelligent carnivore.

It can be no more immoral to enjoy the kill than to enjoy the feast.

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 desired.

Vivien Clifford

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..."

Eileen Ryan

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 human society?"

R M Hatcher

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