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



Lenten Letter
By J. M. Gilheany

No Limits

Sir - Whilst Jerome Flynn's humanitarian invitation to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle is a welcome initiative, it is unfortunate that the compassionate case he presents will have little influence on one particularly large body of opinion on the matter.

The Church has long harboured the notion that it is somehow exempt from ethical, reasoned and merciful vegetarian argument.

Whilst attitudes are indeed changing and advocacy of this issue appears frequently in the Christian press, there still prevails a backward looking and self-serving semanticism, wherby 2000 year old culturally relevant scriptures are considered to be the only source of decision forming reference. The fact that the historical Jesus of first century Palestine performed mystical phenomena with fish is taken as being sufficient grounds for condoning the animal conflagrations of the foot-and-mouth plague.

It is far easier to construct a case for human slavery on New Testament edicts and Christ's apparent acquiescence of the tradition than it is to promote animal exploitation on "Christian" grounds. Indeed, Christendom has already managed this feat par excellence before eventually seeing the light and perversely claiming the credit for its abolition.

Even the ascetic vegetarianism of the Benedictine and Trappist Orders has been compromised by a mercenary involvement in the trade of animal lives and flesh.

A little publicised Christian vegetarian campaign was initiated only prior to the first reports of treatable foot and mouth occurrence. The "Vegetarian Lent 2001" campaign sought to promote reflection on the part of Christians towards the spirit-filled animals traditionally regarded as bacon; beef, ham etc. The central argument being that any sincere religious inclination should be away from participation with the inherent injustice, violence and seemingly endless bloodletting of the meat industry.

There has always existed a tragic and needless Christian correlation with innocent blood-letting throughout history. There seems little point in attempting to appropriate any type of exalted moral stature in today's society, when the average punk will have a far greater and more selfless reverence for animals and their interests than any Cardinal - most of whom appear bloated de riguer.

Were Christ physically amongst us today, it would be extremely difficult to imagine him working in an abattoir, or expecting others to do so on his behalf.

God's love is without limit and his followers would do well to consider expanding their moral horizons.

Western Mail

Return to Lenten letters (2001-04)

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