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


'Catholic Herald' debate (1983)Letters

Kindness to animals

Sunday April 24 was World Day of Prayer for Laboratory Animals; I wonder how many churches remembered so much as a prayer or a mention for these poor defenceless and tortured creatures? Ours certainly did. I was led by the Holy Spirit to be on the march and demonstration leaving Clapham Common for the vivisection laboratory at Carshalton, Surrey.

For those who think vivisection laboratories are solely for medical discovery of benefit to mankind, involving little or no suffering to animals, here and now I thoroughly disillusion you. Of all the experiments used very few if any at all are of real benefit to human medicine. Some are positively damning. Remember Thalidomide - the "safe one" as the drug companies comfortingly told us?

Animals are used to test weed killers, cosmetics, washing powders, bleaches and many other commercial products. Rabbits are blinded by shampoos. They are used for this purpose for they have no tears and cry out in agony at the experiments. They are used by the hundreds weekly and treated like disposable nappies. Dogs are smoked to death, force-fed alcohol in locked cages. This is done time and time again, to prove what? Solely that alcohol and smoke will one day do the same to us.

How many Christians are aware that every six seconds an animal is dying in agony in a vivisection laboratory in the cause of making a few people very rich indeed and for no other reason at all?

But my concern is also for the thousands of people (in the main young people) who are hurt deeply at the cries of those tortured creatures and who are unable to recognise a loving God in all this. This is where the Church comes in. Unfortunately it has been the experience of very many of them and older folk also of harsh and indifferent treatment from their Church, irrespective of denomination.

Many of them who have devoted themselves to bringing this torture to an end have met with open, sometimes violent hostility. Hundreds of people on the walk last Sunday told me of this and I could have wept. Imagine the encouragement it gave them of having a Church representative present.

God created all creatures out of the same love with which he loves us and expects us to treat them with dignity, kindness and love. Yes, we must care for children; yes, we must help the Third World all we possibly can, but does that mean that in caring about one we must neglect another?

Sr Francis
Telacre Abbey, North Wales

Very many thanks to the Catholic Herald for the item in Charterhouse Chronicle on animal liberation.

Gerard Noel reminded us that Sunday, April 24 was World Day for Laboratory Animals, surely a matter for deep disquiet. There is abundant and properly documented evidence that in the name of scientific research truly horrific experiments are carried out, often without anaesthetic, involving extreme pain, suffering and cruelty.

In this connection it was wonderful to read (The Tablet 23/4/83) that Cardinal Joseph Hoffner, Archbishop of Cologne, has repudiated the view that "scientists' interests and views are the sole arbiter in the area of animal experimentation".

He urges stricter control and considerable limitation of such experiments and notes the use of chemicals in the cosmetics industry in particular "cannot be justified". There is a growing body of responsible medical opinion which declares that as good and better results can be obtained by other methods and without using animals.

Let us respond to Sr Francis' request for prayer for her work for animal welfare in the Abbey at Prestatyn. Perhaps we might also remember the efforts of other Animal Societies throughout the world often struggling, with very limited funds and under much difficulty, to alleviate by education and practical aid the sufferings of the animal kingdom. My fond hope is that one day, such prayer might sometimes find a place in our Bidding Petitions at Mass.

Meanwhile, as John Ebden used to say in his delightful radio broadcasts, "If you have been, thanks for listening".

Margaret E Moloney

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