VATICAN CITY (7/3/15) – Pope Francis just released his new encyclical (the Church's most authoritative teaching document), and feels that this one is so important, that he introduced it by stating, "I wish to address every person on this planet." This demonstrates the importance the Pontiff places on this subject which is obviously dear to his heart.
At a time when globally, more animals are suffering at human hands than at any point in history, the Pontiff has made an extraordinary appeal to each and every one of us...Catholic or not. He stated on his Twitter Account; Pope Francis @ Pontifex, (6/18/15): "It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly."
It is not surprising that this current Pope, who in 2013 took the name of St. Francis of Assisi, (the patron saint of animals) would take a solid stand for their well being. This is not just about those who abuse their pets, but billions of animals worldwide that experience the man-made horrors of factory farms and slaughterhouses, which are so inhumane and cruel, those who operate them cannot even be considered human.
These wretches care nothing about living, breathing creatures that experience love, happiness, fear, heartbreak, anxieties and pain the same as us. The only things these merchants care about are the profits by selling the animal's flesh, hide, fur and eggs, to satisfy their greed for money and lusts, as can be seen by the poachers sawing off the horn of a living rhino as it moans and twists in unspeakable agony, believing that when ground up, that horn serves as a powerful aphrodisiac.
In an increasing anthropocentric world, Pope Francis reminds 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...not valued only for what their bodies can produce."
Let this be fully understood for its clarity and implications. These words in regards to animals are coming from the figurehead of the world's most powerful religious organization with over a billion followers whom he calls on to be more compassionate with animals. He is so devoted to this cause that his appeal for change is to go beyond the influence of the Church. He is addressing this to the entire world. And when he proclaims that we need to be more progressive on animal protection, we've reached a defining moment of history.
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. It is interesting to note that the Nazi Youth, to prove their worth, are given a puppy to raise. For their last exercise before being admitted to the Hitler Youth, the recruit is ordered to bring his puppy to class, and in front of that class, strangle his puppy to death. Yes, betray an innocent little puppy that had grown to trust him. "And this," that warped philosophy teaches, "is what makes you a man."
The idea that to take a loving helpless puppy, then torture and brutally kill it in front of people, does not make one a man, but creates a real sicko psycho who should be in an insane asylum. There is no way that kind of creature could be considered sane.
"It is not enough," St. Francis writes, "to think of different species merely as potential 'resources' to be exploited." The Pontiff takes it further by writing, "Our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings." This is so clear by the example of the goose-stepping Hitler Youth.
Pope Francis further suggests that our treatment of animals not only impacts our relationship with others – "it is a reflection on ourselves." Now we are getting to the core of truth.
Full Disclosure: This Protestant minister totally agrees with Pope Francis, having just completed a book, now being shopped, titled: "Angels Unawares-4 Legged Ones, with the subtitle:"What the Church didn't teach me, I learned from my Poodle."
One point covered in my book concerns the statement in Geneses 1:26: "Man shall have dominion over the animals." That verse has been totally misused by man who says this means we can do anything we want with God's creation including mistreating them. That word 'dominion' actually translates, 'respect,' and 'cooperate with.'
Pope Francis obviously would be in agreement with my findings about that term, going on himself to confront head-on the "dominion" debate which has long been conveniently misinterpreted by those vested in cruel practices. The Pontiff 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:"
His direct statement wraps up this debate: "We must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God's image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures."
This comes at a time when the world is taking a closer look at our relationship with animals, big and small, indeed, all creatures as God would have us do.
Tougher laws are being put in place, with cruelty to animals now classified as a felony in all states of the union. There are newspaper columns featuring animals including wild life. There have been nine movies where animals are the stars (remember the Lassie movies?) and the new one coming out this weekend, Max, the dog who stars in this delightful flick.
I pity those who have never known an animal, especially a dog that is the only creature on earth who loves you with 'unconditional love.' Indeed, you have never truly been loved at all until you have been loved by a dog. Books about dogs and other animals are flying off the shelves. A new awareness is rising.
FOOTNOTE : This writer is a vegetarian. To me, considering my love for animals, eating meat would exhibit downright betrayal to satisfy my own taste buds. If you could see and hear what really goes on in the slaughterhouses and witness the cruelty, the cries of horror from the innocent animals being slaughtered, and see first- hand how sick and diseased animal are used for meat that is many times contaminated, it is downright stupid to eat meat. Not only that, doctors now warn that eating meat is NOT good for your digestive system or your overall health.
Pope Francis is very much appreciated for his dedication to treating all creatures humanely. He has just hit a home-run.
Our thanks to Animals Australia, an outstanding Animal Rescue Organization, for alerting us to this new Vatican Encyclical. You can contact them by going to: www.AnimalsAustralia.org