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


Hope for a true culture

By Margaret Heard

From the 'Forum' section of the former British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection journal - Animal Welfare (March 1976 edition)

I am writing specifically with regard to your excellent review of Andrew Linzey’s book “Animal Rights”, but also to say how much I like the new journal. This edition is particularly interesting and easier to read in its smaller size.
Regarding the book – it is indeed a great step forward into the intellectual domain of Theology, and should do much good. I can see why the author has castigated the established church so much and I applaud his courage in tossing around so many hot potatoes (sadly in short supply these days).
However, I am writing to say a word on behalf of the Catholic Church. I am not Catholic myself and my views are my own – I am not writing as their spokesman in any way. But I do admire and know Catholics who have worked for many years on behalf of animals and I think that the inferred criticism that their church is the worst should not go unchallenged.
Leap forward
Obviously Andrew Linzey could only tackle the inner orthodox acceptance of past teachings, and in this he must be right. But Father Dom Ambrose Agius, for example, and other priests and members of the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare have spent many years fighting for animals. Father Agius himself has written a book in which he clearly shows the other side of the picture and the opinions of many Catholic saints and figureheads.
It seems to me from an admittedly limited knowledge of the Church that pure early Christianity suffered from the influence first of the Romans, with their inherent sadistic and mechanistic natures, and then of the sweeping hordes of Barbarians invading Europe, of whom we are the remnants.
Surely real “Catholicism” means all-embracing and now that the authoritarian grip may be lessening there is every hope that real Christianity will forge ahead with all non-materialists into a true culture.
The Cathars, or Albigensians, martyred by the Inquisition in the 13th century, attempted a fusion of Eastern/Reincarnation-based thought, with pure Christianity, but the perverts then in power linking Church and the French monarchy were too strong.
Dr. Arthur Guirdham, the psychiatrist, who has written so much on the Cathars now apparently reincarnating, appears himself to be very anti-vivisection.
But surely the Catholic church, of the main Christian movements, is one which retained an inner mystical atmosphere and inspiration. Their adoption of Mary as a guiding force was a very civilising influence. When the Reformation came the way was wide open for the descent into matter, over-balanced masculinity, and a callous disregard for nature.
I believe we delude ourselves when we assume that we are superior to the Middle Ages in all respects. Torture on humans is now widespread – in this century, too, as a matter of army policy – callous, indifferent treatment of humans in hospitrals, etc., is not unknown – their sensitivities and need for spiritual comfort trampled over by mechanistic manipulators intent on gaining knowledge of matter.
Car accidents, machine accidents in industry, and various strains and torments of our industrial age, all create more horror than was ever known probably even in the Middle Ages. 460 million people face starvation while we stuff ourselves with the tortured bodies of dead animals.
Even the belief that the Reformation brought freedom from the Church’s domination is a myth, for now the majority of us are slaves to the State, and everyone is forced by circumstances to take part in the great war machine whether they want to or not.
Whilst the Catholic Church embraced St. Francis of Assisi, some aspects of Protestantism have seemed more intent on embracing I.C.I. and other symbols of Dinosaur Capitalism.
Indeed, the entire framework of Protestantism and Puritanism channelled spiritual and psychic energies into money-making activities which themselves ensured exploitation of humans and animals.
All in danger
We are in such danger now that all non-materialists should get together before the final deluge of “matter” over “spirit”. Andrew Linzey’s book should do much good in its own sphere, for it seems to me that the various religious movements are the people are the people who should be in a position to recognise vivisection for the black magic perversion which it truly is.
Reproduced with thanks.

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