Animal abuse is no 'sport'
It is very encouraging to read that
your paper is giving support to Mr Foster's anti-hunting Bill (re Mrs J
Franklin's letter, The Universe, December 21).
The more support
the better. It is high time the Church spoke out about the abuse of
animals for what is called a 'sport.' It was James Froude who observed:
'Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the
torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.'
'The Universe' - Debate (1997)
Making a meal of those veggies
Page 33 of The Universe
(March 15) offered several vegetarian recipes.
enough for those who like such cookery.
But my husband and I and
our two sons are farmers from a long line of farmers; and we bitterly
resent the mantra chanting of vegetarians about cruelty to animals and
We have no record of anything like that. If
frightening people to stop eating meat means telling lies it doesn't say
much for their morals.
Mrs W Oliver
Article: Adopting the greens alternative
Sowing seeds of more sorrow for world poor
I read your
recent articles on the genetic engineering of food with great interest.
However, I feel that there is a key dimension to the issue which you did
not mention: the implications of bio-technology for poor countries and
agricultural communities in the Third World.
industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world and is largely
controlled by transnational companies.
Seventy five per cent of
research is driven by the economics of agribusiness and this dictates
that, for example, the emphasis goes on the 150 crops that are grown
commercially, although there are 220,000 plant species on earth.
It also dictates an emphasis on intensive agriculture, with single crops
grown in huge fields and the widespread use of chemical pesticides and
fertilisers, even though these degrade the soil and the surrounding
environment in the long-term.
The majority of Third-World
farmers are small-scale, farming a number of crops using traditional
methods. According to Indian ecologist Vandhana Shiva: "Far from feeding
the world, people are going to starve because of genetically engineered
foods. More and more peasants will see their crops substituted through
In her country, thousands of farmers using the
genetically engineered seeds from US transnational Monsanto have been
forced to change from their traditional agricultural practices and are
now dependent on the company which supplies the seeds and chemicals.
They are forced to pay a 'technical fee' to Monsanto over and above the
cost of the seeds and can be fined if they are caught using chemicals
other than Monsanto's.
Another dimension is the
"bio-prospecting" of transnationals in gene-rich Third World countries
and this doesn't stop at food crops. Indigenous communities in Latin
America and Asia have complained bitterly about the gathering of their
genes by complanies who then patent them, claiming them as their own
Twenty years into the future, the impact of eating
tomatoes that don't rot and bananas containing vaccines may become
clearer. Third World peoples and those who work with them can identify
now the dangers for sustainable development of regarding bio-technology
as a 'technical fix' for meeting food needs in the future.
is amongst those agencies with the foresight to have supported since the
early 1980s projects such as the Seeds Action Network and GRAIN (Genetic
Resources Action International) which monitor the impact of
bio-technology on Third World agriculture.
Fr Sean McDonagh of
the Columban Society warned in his book The Greening of the Church of
the dangers of First World corporate seed companies pillaging the
genetic resources of the Third World countries, developing new varieties
of seeds, then selling them back to the Third World countries and in the
process making a huge profit.
He says: "The Christian Churches
should lobby to ensure that this kind of power over the living world is
not concentrated in the hands of the few.
They should also
insist that all aspects of genetic engineering be debated within an
ethical and religious context and that whatever emerges from it by way
of techniques and knowledge must belong to the public domain and must
not be used to disadvantage the poor further."
Our faith must look at ecology
decision by our bishops to form a new committe devoted to the
environment will be enthusiastically welcomed by the Catholic community.
Building on the Common Good it is a clear sign that the ecological
teachings of the Holy Father are to be integrated into mainstream
At the grass roots level I find considerable
interest from those whose instinct is that our faith must have something
to say about the ecological crisis and indeed have some hope to offer.
Some churches give an opportunity for the congregation to offer
petitions 'from the floor' and this is a good way of bringing concern
for our fellow creatures and habitats into the liturgy. Our services of
reconciliation can include ecological sins but rarely do.
we can easily miss the point that the Eucharist has a profound
ecological dimension which is often overlooked. We can forget the
significance of the gifts of bread and wine. "Fruits of the Earth and
work of human hands."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
reminds us that the Eucharist is also a sacrifice of praise in
thanksgiving for the whole of creation. "Through Christ the Church can
offer the sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for all that God has made
good, beautiful and just in creation and humanity."
de-Lubas reminded us that "the Eucharist makes the Church". In a real
sense then our Church should have an ecological dimension; that is, our
local Eucharistic communities should show the sensitivity to creation
which is so clearly lacking in our market-driven society.
will be fascinating to see how this insight is developed, both through
the environmental committee and the proposed bishops' document of the
key to future
I read your article 'Starvation disaster is closer
still' (Universe, May 10) with great interest.
World famine may
be even more likely now that genetically engineered crop seeds have been
produced which will not reproduce.
Farmers in poor countries
normally save their seeds from one season to the next, but can't afford
to buy new seeds every year from the agro-chemical companies.
was also pleased to see the letter in the same edition from Stephen
Retout, 'Our faith must look at ecology'.
Christian Ecology Link
is encouraging churches to look at their impact on the environment and
accept the millennium challenge with points awarded for environmental
A Millennium certificate can be applied for.
is doing so well
The Universe continues to do its good work of
reminding the Catholic community of the continuing threat to our
The comment on August 9 highlighted that one of
these threats arises from genetic engineering of farm crops.
development of herbicide resistant crops, followed by blanket
applications of herbicides, could wipe out much of our natural flora in
This is in addition to the potential elimination
of beneficial insects and habitats for wildlife.
In the same
issue the extinction of Bristish sea birds as a result of global warming
was mentioned. Once again our lifestyle choices are having a destructive
effect on our fellow creatures in the earth community.
context we need to recover the sense that the bio-diversity in these
islands is a precious gift from God. Pope John Paul's words in 1990 need
to be heeded:
"The created universe has been given to mankind,
not for selfish misuse, but for the glory of God..."
awarding the Franciscan Environmental Prize to Costa Rica in 1991, the
Holy Father asked that country to continue its work of
counscious-raising for the protection of the environment by spreading a
culture that is attentive to the values of our ecosystem.
you to The Universe for publishing articles which are within the deep
tradition of our faith.
Pursuit of choice may be death of us all
Spread the green gospel for the next millennium
Thank you for
calling attention to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders'
massive public relations campaign on behalf of car use.
money would be better spent planting trees to filter pollution and
improve children's health.
Every Christian can help in small
First, let us walk, bicycle or share transport to all
Second, let local Churches Together
plant 20 indigenous trees, from our own gardens, as our millenial
gospel, one tree for each Christian century.
When the local
millennial copse is planted on Church land we might even remove a bit of
asphalt near a church and replace it with a tree.
Dr Edward P
Animals and us
coverage which The Universe and other Catholic newspapers have been
giving to animal issues is a heartening development.
attitude of a great number of Christians toward animal rights and
welfare has for too long been miserable. Even the Catechism presently
hints that to care about animal abuse is to neglect responsibilities
towards our own species.
Yet there is a growing realisation
that it's not a case of animals or us but animals and us. As Romans 8:
18-23 makes clear, human and animal suffering are one and the same. We
all share the same 'bondage of corruption' and look forward to a shared
redemption (Acts 3:21).
It is good to see animals rights
campaigners featured alongside peace activists, overseas aid workers,
pro-life campaigners and all who seek to actualise the spirit of
Christ's teaching in today's disordered world.
John M Gilheany
You don't need to spoil animals
with John Gilheany, 13 September, that we should do all we can to
abolish cruelty to animals but I expect he will disagree with my
attitude to pets.
When I was young (I am 82) we lived in the
country and there was plenty of space to exercise the dog which we had.
He flourished on dog biscuits and fresh food and I don't know where we
would have gone to consult a vet.
Millions of pounds are now
spent on tins of dog food and expensive visits to vets. Where do all the
profits go? I can understand elderly people who live alone feeling
comfort from the company of a dog or cat and young children like to have
something to love.
I object when pet keeping is taken to excess.
In the small close where I live one single mother with a 12 year old boy
and her father has two dogs and three cats.
Almost all the
houses have one or two cats and it is a constant struggle for those with
no pets to keep lawns and borders free of cat mess.
I could write
pages about the thoughtlessness of people in regard to nuisance to
Much of the money given to pet food makers and
expensive vet's fees would serve a much more Christian purpose if it
went to the starving children in countries overseas.
Regulation of pets will help to stop cruelty
I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments of Mr Hill, as expressed in
your letters page of October 4.
One way to reduce cruelty to
animals is for their ownership to be regulated. Many organisations,
including the RSPCA, pressed the previous government repeatedly to
upgrade the dog licence, as a well-funded license scheme would be in the
interests of society as a whole and the dogs themselves.
calls fell upon deaf ears, including those of a very influential
Catholic politician in that government, so that they deregulated
But when this very influential Catholic politician
contemplated the horror which awaited his canine chums upon his return
to Blighty, he immediately proposed an electronic registration scheme
together with doggy passports and doggy vaccinations.
proposals are being discussed at government level in the Advisory Group
on quarantine chaired by Proffessor of Ethics Ian Kennedy.
is good as there is a very unethical situation vis a vis children and
dogs in our society.
However a relaxation of the quarantine laws
will mean a big increase in dog tourism and a consequent huge increase
in enforcement and veterinary costs at Immigration paid for by the tax
There will also be an increased risk of bringing in
rabies and the other nasty diseases to infect pets, agricultural animals
and what is more important, children.
Anyone wishing to keep the
status quo should write to their MP and Mr Jeff Rooker at Westminster.
This is necessary as there are hugely powerful vested interests on
the Group, in the form of pet food manufacturers and organisations
promoting pet ownership, in favour of change.
Lost species diminish our uniqueness
was pleased to read your article "Extra Protection for our feathered
friends" (Universe October 11), about plans to look after the habitat of
birds and protect bio-diversity.
God created all these species
and the Bible instructs humans to be good stewards of all He created.
Whenever a species is lost it affects other creatures. For instance, if
birds are destroyed by pesticides then the insects that the birds used
to feed upon multiply and cause problems to humans.
Bio-diversity of plants and creatures is very important. There are
thought to be cures for cancer and other diseases in the plants of the
rain forests, yet these are being burnt and felled for profit at an
alarming rate. Trees help to purify the air we breathe.
allow the earth and its inter-dependent eco-system to be damaged, then
we humans suffer too.
With regard to the photograph in last week's Universe
of Fr Henri Lambert "baptising" the baby panther for a circus, can I
just say how sad I was that you found it necessary to publish such an
Not because of the "baptism", but the fact that it appears
to give the Church's blessing on the training of animals for man's
amusement and entertainment.
You only have to read the recent
case where the elephant keeper was jailed for battering an elephant
during a "training" session, to know what goes on.
All I can say
is "God help the baby panther" - I'm sure the good Lord never intended
animals to be abused in this way, especially wild creatures.
Reproduced with thanks.
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