Short Address by Deborah Jones at Ecumenical Animal Service for Animal Creation, Clifton cathedral, October 4, 2003
Dear friends and honoured guests
We are nearly at the end of our service here today
In which we have given praise and thanks to God for
his wonderful creation.
We have also shown our sorrow for the harm our human
race has inflicted
On the innocent animals God creates and loves.
We have sought his mercy and asked God to replace the
stony hearts of men with hearts of flesh and feeling.
And they are stony indeed. Who but stony-hearted
people could cause the plight of the 50,000 Australian sheep left to
drift in the Corma Express on the Arabian ocean for over two months in
blistering heat and depleted food stocks, looking for a port to receive
them – where the survivors may be put to death - which would, at least,
end their ghastly ordeal?
Oh yes, there are people for whom their suffering
means not one jot.
Any more than they are moved by the agonies that
animals are put through in circuses, laboratories, factory farms and
battery cages, nor are they touched by the sight of overflowing pet
rescue centres, dancing bears – and so on, and so on.
Yet many of these people are our Christian brothers
and sisters, encouraged to think of themselves as the whole point and
pinnacle of creation – as if the whole panoply, the living kaleidoscope
of the natural world exists purely and simply for our human benefit to
do with as we like.
But all who call ourselves Christian, are challenged
by the Reverend Henry Primatt, writing back in 1776:
“We may pretend to what religion we please, but
cruelty is atheism.
We may make our boast of Christianity, but cruelty is
the worst of heresies.
We may trust to our orthodoxy, but cruelty is the
worst of heresies.”
Let us pray and work to rid our Churches of this
atheism, this worst of heresies – this sin
For it is sin to impose the power of the strong - for
the strong’s sole benefit – onto the weak, it is sin to consider the
Other – be it person or animal – as an instrument, an unfeeling object
to be used, it is sin to put one’s tastes and preferences before the
real needs of others, it is sin to abuse the creation for which we have
been given responsibility
So we now implore the power of the Holy Spirit - upon
us and all the members of Christian Churches everywhere to reject the
heresy of cruelty, to guide us to make right decisions in our daily
activities, to encourage us to bring an end to the terrible injustice
daily done to weak and vulnerable creatures in our name.
We call on Church leaders to preach the gospel of love
for the whole of creation, and we demand of civil leaders to do all that
is in their powers to pass laws and regulations that protect and respect
all that live and feel.
So may all those of you here present who wish to
declare your intention to be on the side of our fellow creatures in the
animal world, to offer them kindness and compassion, stand now and say
together the rite of commitment:
In the presence of the Lord, and of all of you, my
brothers and sisters, I make this firm resolve to help - and not to harm
- all living beings who feel pain and suffer distress. I pledge my
support, in so far as I am able, to the relief of the sufferings of our
fellow creatures. Amen.