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A refreshing humility and willingness to speak out on key areas of concern has become the hallmark of Pope Francis — who in 2013 took the name of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. So it’s no surprise that in his recent encyclical (one of the Church’s most authoritative teaching documents — addressed to the World’s billion-odd Catholics) the Pope has called on his followers to be more compassionate. But he has done more than that.

In recognizing that our treatment of animals and the environment reflects our treatment of each other, he is using his position to appeal for change beyond the influence of the Church: “I wish to address every person on this planet.”

And he’s not mincing words. When it comes to climate change, Pope Francis is scathing of our recent history and warns that humanity is now reaching a “breaking point.” And when it comes to animals, he is equally forthright:

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When today, the vast majority of animals raised into human care — billions worldwide — endure the human-made horrors of factory farms and slaughterhouses, Pope Francis’ message couldn’t be more potent. And when the figurehead of one of the world’s most conservative institutions warns that we need to be more progressive on animal protection — we’ve reached a defining moment in history.

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In an increasingly anthropocentric world, Pope Francis wants to remind us that “Each organism, as a creature of God, is good and admirable in itself … we are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes…”

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The Pope’s call for mercy perhaps highlights most poignantly the plight of animals suffering the inhumanity of industrial farming and slaughter — literally valued only for what their bodies can produce.

Making Connections to the Environment

In his heartfelt missive, the Pope warns of the dangers of unbridled consumerism, lamenting that humanity’s “reckless” behavior has pushed the planet to a perilous extreme — putting the environment at risk through pollution and climate change.

He then goes on to confront head on the “dominion” debate, which has long been conveniently misinterpreted by those vested in cruel practices. Pope Francis clearly outlines the crucial difference between “dominion,” meaning care of or responsibility for, and “domination”; setting the record straight about how we should treat those who share “our common home”:

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The Pontiff also remarks on the fact that any tolerance for cruelty to animals reflects on our tolerance for violence toward human beings — an observation which is supported by a wealth of evidence.

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Pope Francis further suggests that our treatment of animals not only impacts our relationship with others — it is a reflection on ourselves. And that our care for the environment is also intimately connected to our care for each other — and we are failing miserably at both.

“We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social,” Francis writes, “but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.” In his eyes, to save the planet is to save ourselves, in more ways than one.

The Pope’s warning is direct and frank. He also illuminates one way forward.

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“When social pressure affects their earnings, businesses clearly have to find ways to produce differently. This shows us the great need for a sense of social responsibility on the part of consumers.

When it comes to the world’s #1 cause of cruelty — factory farming — this observation couldn’t be more on-point. A rise in awareness and concern for animals is driving a global consumer movement that is already starting to force profound changes for animals.

Although animal abusing industries have developed ever-crueller systems to confine and exploit animals, the rise in public awareness and the rate of positive change has also never been greaterMajor retailersglobal food giants and fast food companies are all being forced to respond.

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Call for Compassion

We may have unwittingly inherited a paradigm of animal exploitation that treats living beings like commodities. We may be stuck with political leaders who prioritize economic growth at all costs. But clearly, compassionate citizens, and now the Western world’s most influential religious figure, are united in calling for much needed positive change.

We can only pray that those who most need to hear this message — for the animals, and for our own sakes — are ready and willing to listen.

But while we wait for lawmakers to recognize our duty of care to those we share this planet with — regardless of what our political or religious viewpoints might be — one thing we can all agree on is that we can each take steps toward a kinder, more just society, by leading kinder, more compassionate lives.

Amen to that.



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9 comments on “Finally! Pope Francis Believes Compassion for Animals Can Help the Environment”

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C. Plague
1 Years Ago

It\'s the plague again.

I\'m not religious. I believe in freedom FROM religion. As , for example, when Pope Francis says "Human beings...are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning," he secretly excluded from his remarks that human beings can also rise above RELIGIOUS indoctrination and conditioning.

As to Pope Francis\'s remarks about "our being created in God\'s image" and "given dominion over the earth," Capt. Paul Watson once observed: "We\'re just a conceited naked ape, but in our minds we\'re some divine legend and we see ourselves as some sort of god," a god that decides who will live and who will die, what will be saved and what will be destroyed, "but honestly we\'re just a bunch of primates out of control."

The late John Aspinall once gave a talk on "Man\'s place in Nature":

I think I have to consider what place man has arrogated to himself in Nature\'s pantheon and what is the reality of this place, for obviously these are two different things.

Man has deified himself: he has made his own species \'god\'. He believes in this, which is often fatal if one recollects certain great Emperors and rulers who decided, for religio-political reasons, to make themselves gods: Like Augustus and perhaps Alexander. The fatal moment arrived when some came to believe that they really were gods--of course Augustus and Alexander never fell for this, but Caligula believed that he was a god. MANKIND AS A SPECIES IS NOW AT ABOUT THE SAME MENTAL STAGE AS CALIGULA AT HIS MADDEST. He fights phony battles, he wins crazy victories. Do you recollect that Caligula insisted on his legions attacking the channel with their short-swords and claimed a triumph of the first order when he returned to Rome for having conquered Neptune? Well, those are the sort of victories that mankind has had. Most of his victories are false victories, because as he declares himself a triumph he declares his own ruin--as indeed Caligula had a brief, albeit spectacular, life.

So we have the place that man gives himself, deifying himself. In this particular sophistry the idea is that he is a god as a species. All faiths except Buddhism seem to combine to further this belief: Judaeo-Christianity, Marxism, Islam: a troika for one passenger only--man. Curiously enough it is the main theme and the one factor of these three disparate faiths....

So therefore all of us inwardly believe that we are gods. We have deified ourselves as a species. I almost believe it myself, because it has been drummed into me from my earliest years that man is different from and superior to all other living things. It is very hard to discard what has been instilled into our race for over two thousand years. It is very difficult, but some of us still make stumbling attempts to shed this sophistry.

Is there ANY hope for animals (let alone animal rights, animal liberation) within religious circles? I don\'t think so, Pope Francis notwithstanding. Perhaps there is, but only if you are willing to settle for MODIFIED EXPLOITATION and "humane" slaughter? How about perpetuating the status quo for animal exploitation, abuse, suffering, and death IN MODERATION?

But considering the intellectual gymnastics animal-friendly theologians must use to sweeten religion’s bitter treatment of nonhuman beings ["animals"], it would seem that religious teachings dissuade followers from understanding the principles needed to make the world less violent toward them. At the very least, they provide conflicting arguments using the same materials, never coming to a spiritual consensus on animals.

THOMAS AQUINAS, THIRTEENTH CENTURY CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN…PROVIDES AN APT CASE STUDY FOR WHY RELIGIOUS ARGUMENTS FOR ANIMAL LIBERATION ARE TENUOUS, EVEN DESPERATE…. His work still influences those entering the priesthood…. When it comes to FRANCIS [OF ASSISI], an argument can be made that he encouraged kindness to animals, but he is only one of many Catholic saints, and HIS AFFECTION FOR ANIMALS AND NATURE WAS CERTAINLY NOT INFLUENTIAL ENOUGH TO HAVE ANY EFFECT ON CATHOLICISM’S OFFICIAL STANCE ON NONHUMAN BEINGS…. FRANCIS’S LOVE OF ANIMALS WAS SECULAR, THE IDEAS OF ONE MAN WHOSE COMPASSION TOWARD OTHER-THAN-HUMAN ANIMALS WAS IN DEFIANCE OF HIS CHURCH, NOT IN COLLUSION WITH IT. On Aquinas and the popes, however, there is little room for debate.

Philosophy Professor Judith Barad premises Aquinas as an “exemplar” because he concluded that animals and plants have souls, although they are not the same as human souls; he also acknowledge that animals have feelings. To counter such a depiction of Aquinas who…helped embed speciesism more deeply into Catholicism than it had been before… [as] other Christian animal advocates [explain], Aquinas declared “by divine province that non-rational beings should serve the higher species”…. [Aquinas regarded animals as non-rational, an idea that in turn influenced centuries of Christian thought.] [Aquinas…denied not only that animals are our neighbors, but that we do not have any direct obligation to show them kindness.] If Aquinas is one of the best “exemplars” Catholicism has to offer, there is no hope for nonhuman animals through the Catholic approach. Even other Christians can see that. [Philosophy professor Judith Barad, in “Catholic Exemplars: Recent Popes, Medieval Saints, and Animal Liberation”]

Popes condemn extreme instances of animal mistreatment; no pope has ever argued against the use of animals to serve human ends.

IT IS MORE USEFUL TO LOOK AT THE OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. In 1982, this is what JOHN PAUL II said about scientific experimentation to Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a stance that never changed during his lifetime:

Consequently, I have no reason to be apprehensive for those experiments in biology that are performed by scientists who, like you, have a profound respect for the human person…. On the other hand, I condemn, in he most explicit and formal way, experimental manipulations of the human embryo, since the human being, from conception to death, cannot be exploited for any purpose whatsoever. Indeed, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, man is “the only creature on earth which God willed for itself”…. It is certain that animals are at the service of man and can hence be the object of experimentation.

THIS IS A CLEAR DIRECTIVE, AN EXECUTIVE STATEMENT. Somehow, an infallible man, a direct conduit of God, can maintain this sentiment while also declaring we humans must love and feel solidarity with animals. Likewise, in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Holy See…concludes about other uses of animals: God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals….

After considering how animals fare in the Catholic Church, I cannot help but wonder how many nonhuman beings have to suffer and die under the researchers’ and scientists’ knives before revelation would ever progress enough to countermand positions such as the Vatican’s. AT WHAT POINT DO OTHERWISE KINDHEARTED AND INTELLIGENT PEOPLE STOP LOOKING TO GOD AND HIS MOUTHPIECES TO FOSTER A COMPASSIONATE VIEW OF OTHER-THAN-HUMAN ANIMALS?

Thanks to Kim Socha\'s book on religion.


Reply
Lisa Buckley
1 Years Ago




“LOVE is the key to LIFE”.

“LOVE is the key to LIFE”. That was the word from Dr Ukaka when I consulted his powerful Love Temple. I married the wrong man; I realized that after four years of our unfruitful marriage. Everything was going from Best to Worst in our life, no child, I got demoted from work after our marriage, my husband was sacked a year after. His application for new job in various offices was constantly declined even though he was qualified enough. I was made to take care of my family with the low income I earn get that wasn’t enough to pay our rent. We keep praying a seeking for help from some people, my friends laugh at me behind because I was advised not to get married yet.It was one Thursday night that my husband woke me up and told me that has thought enough about our crisis, he said that our crisis is not ordinary and it’s beyond our spiritual level. He suggested we should consult Dr Ukaka from testimonies he showed me online about how he has been helping families. I was afraid, I don’t like evil or spell but I supported him to contact him if he can help us. We consulted him via [email protected] and he replied positively after 20munites with congratulating email that he can help us but he will need our pure heart and trusts in his work if he will cast the spell on us and purify our life. We agreed to his terms. He cast the spell and told us to expect results within 5days. I waited for three days nothing happened, so I started having doubt and blaming my husband for emailing Dr Ukaka. It was on the fifth day that my husband was called for an interview and he got a well-paying work, I was prompted to a higher position. I missed my period on the 5th day and it was confirmed that I am with a baby. Things have really changed for us for good and we now have our own house and cars. I will never forget what Dr Ukaka told us “LOVE is the key to LIFE”, this word keep me going. People that laughed at us are coming close for help and I am delighted to welcome them because my family is now blessed. Dr Ukaka is a savior and man that keep to his word even when I doubted his powers at the end of the spell. Thank you great Dr Ukaka and your Oracle for helping us via [email protected] and I will keep spreading this message to people in need of help. also contact him for help.website address: freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com ;)


Reply
Jana Piranha
1 Years Ago

Here\'s hoping the pope goes vegan, and encourages the rest of the world to follow suit.


Reply
C. Plague
28 Jun 2015

Not even the Dalai Lama is vegetarian.

JC Corcoran
29 Jun 2015

I\'m with you Jana!

C. Plague
1 Years Ago

I wish the media would stop cheerleading the pope as if he\'s going to change the church, as if he\'s going to clean the slate and start fresh. How about starting with the sanctity of ALL life? How about recognizing and defending ANIMAL dignity? Animal RIGHTS?

Religious ideology is strongly antithetical to animal liberation: if other animals don\'t have "souls," therefore their lives don\'t matter (to us). But we should be "kind" to them for practice only (so that we will be more predisposed to treating other humans kindly).

His message here is all about the HUMAN environment, and the other animals are just props and landscape. He\'s not talking about animal LIBERATION!

The pope has a rather pacifist view of human nature. He seems to ignore the identity investment humans have of themselves as the "superior" species, and his claim that humans are "created in the image of God" SUPPORTS this belief! It\'s a hierarchy of privilege and power over those seen as "other" and "below."


Reply
John Doe
27 Jun 2015

Blow it out your ass

Debra
28 Jun 2015

C. Plague, did you even read the article? Pope Francis addressed every one of your comments. Read and think before you speak.

Nancy P.
28 Jun 2015

The Pope has stated that animals have souls. He is promoting full recognition of animals\' rights to life and freedom from human harm. He is promoting the sanctity of all life. I\'m not religious, and was raised in a Jewish family, so I\'m not just defending the Pope, I\'m simply restating his words.



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