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

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Letters - By J. M. Gilheany

Church's role in animal welfare

It is a traditional cliche among animal protectionists that the Church could not care less about animal suffering at human hands.

For the most part the exasperation felt by compassionate groups and individuals who have sought support from the Churches over issues of animal exploitation is too depressing to explore. As the Chaiman of the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare put it thirty years ago: "Do we, as Catholics, have no religious feelings at all about God's creatures, who share our world and give silent worship by their very existence?"

Over the years, an incremental wealth of Christian insight, much of it Catholic, has nonetheless been evinced through animal-related journals and the Church press.

The Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, the Rev. Prof. Andrew Linzey has suggested that '"Theology provides a way in which animal rights theory can be released from its current philosophical straightjacket".

Indeed, Christian understanding of animal issues could have been far more relevant to an entire generation had it more regularly attuned itself with the concern for other creatures which has been characteristic of scores of saints.

For an archive of articles, letters and features which have explored our controversial relationship with creation over recent decades, please visit the 'Fellowship of Life' website at: www.all-creatures.org/fol .

The Universe (11/1/08) 

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