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

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Letters - By J. M. Gilheany

Real ethical choice is vegetarianism

The famous 'animal theologian' and Anglican Revd. Professor, Andrew Linzey, has often invoked the adage that animal rights advocates may be welfarists that really mean it!

It was an unavoidable consideration which seemed to linger whilst reading the feature on factory farming that appeared in The Universe of January 27 ('An ethical choice won't cost you the earth' - Emma Clancy).

There was a substantial implication that Catholics bear a moral duty to support industries that profit from the rearing, killing and consumption of animals. Yet such an article is to be welcomed in that it takes the whole issue of 'ethical choice' to an important and genuine crux. Ms. Clancy states: "Ultimately the choice of food we buy affects British farmers and the future really is at stake."

Let us be clear that until the arrival of Christ's kingdom on earth when "none shall hurt or destroy" there will be no shortage of meat- eaters. However, Christians should surely stand apart from the conduct of the world if we are to be true heralds of the promised age for which we pray. To invoke: ' 'Thy Kingdom come...' requires real witness to an era of peace on earth through everyday aspiration, effort and example. There will always be farmers to cater for the kebab shop crowds but those that trade in animal carcases have long been aware of the need to embrace changing consumer trends and diversify. The Catholic Church needs to harness the vision of the prophets not hark back to the ancient agricultural backdrop of events in the New Testament.

The Catholic press has no truck with the arms trade or the interests of its employees. In precisely the same way the long-term role of tobacco manufacturers, advertisers that target children with confectionery and those that peddle slaughterhouse products should find little favour among the spiritual. There is no reason for an article on ethical dietary to blithely ignore the vegetarian alternative to cheap factory-farmed, or expensively produced, organic animal flesh.

It is indeed sad that Catholic Bishops should have to be dragged towards civilised Diocesan policy on cruel systems of animal confinement in the wake of practical concern from celebrity chefs. Andrew Linzey has estimated that there are now more practising vegetarians in Britain than there are Catholic worshippers. One wonders how many may have thrown Christianity to the four winds because of jaded episcopal eulogies over man's Divine image; to the detriment of every sentient being that theology so often exploits.

There is far more to the manifestation of divine qualities than mere physical appearance which should be obvious from the soaring criminal population in Western society.

The Universe (3/2/08)

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