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

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Letters - By J. M. Gilheany

Doing greater things

From Mr John M Gilheany

SIR - Graham Moorehouse (Letters, May 15) need harbour no anxiety that Catholicism and vegetarianism should somehow be considered anomalous within the theory that "if it is immoral to eat meat, then Christ was immoral".

Perhaps James, the brother of Jesus was merely engaging in sibling rivalry, and St Peter, whose abstinence from the flesh of animals has similarly been mentioned in the history of the early Church, should now be considered unworthy of their traditional place in Catholic tradition?

Maybe the numerous saints (for whom asceticism and reverence for creation led to contemplative renunciation of cruelty and temporal opportunity throughout their time on earth) were simply attempting to outshine one another or usurp the reputation of their Saviour?

The Son of God, let us remember, never claimed to be perfect (Mark 10:18). Indeed, we are invited to improve upon the morality which prevailed in the first century rather than emulate ancient traditions such as human slavery which eventually became the everlasting shame of Christendom.

Our Lord would hardly succumb to a fit of pique at the increasing numbers of compassionate individuals who have turned their backs on slaughter during their earthly pilgrimage. Indeed, we have been given basic spiritual principles of mercy, love, peace, pity and perhaps what Tolstoy realised to be a religion of "infinite perfecting" rather than individual accomplishment.

After all, Christ admonished future generations of His followers with the prophecy: "These things shall ye do, and greater things than these shall ye do" (John 14:12).

It seems that from those to whom much has been given much will always be expected, so surely our vast consumer choice of alternatives to animal exploitation should inspire our daily pursuit of the Kingdom on earth.

Catholic Herald (22/5/09). 

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