I have an idea. Why don't you write an open letter to the Pope asking him to do something significant for animals? He has adopted the name of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, and since we represent a city also named after the same, it seems appropriate for us to do this. We could post it on our site as a press release and the least it will do is draw world wide attention to our up coming World Veg Festival.
for the animals,
It is said that St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) bought two lambs from a butcher and gave them the coat on his back to keep them warm; and that he bought two fish from a fishwoman and threw them back into the water. He even paid to ransom lambs that were being taken to their death, recalling the gentle Lamb who willingly went to slaughter (Isaiah 53:7; John 1:29) to pay the ransom of sinners.
"Be conscious, O man, of the wondrous state in which the Lord God has placed you," instructed Francis in his Admonitions (4), "for He created and formed you to the image of His beloved Son--and (yet) all the creatures under heaven, each according to its nature, serve, know, and obey their Creator better than you." St. Francis felt a deep kinship with all creatures. He called them "brother" and "sister," knowing they came from the same Source as himself.
Francis revealed his fraternal love for the animal world during Christmas time 1223: "If I ever have the opportunity to talk with the emperor," he explained, "I'll beg him, for the love of God and me, to enact a special law: no one is to capture or kill our sisters the larks or do them any harm. Furthermore, all mayors and lords of castles and towns are required to scatter wheat and other grain on the roads outside the walls so that our sisters the larks and other birds might have something to eat on so festive a day.
"And on Christmas Eve, out of reverence for the Son of God, whom on that night the Virgin Mary placed in a manger before the ox and the ass, anyone having an ox or an ass is to feed it a generous portion of choice fodder. And, on Christmas Day, the rich are to give the poor the finest food in abundance."
Francis removed worms from a busy road and placed them on the roadside so they would not be crushed under human traffic. Once when he was sick and almost blind, mice ran over his table as he took his meals and over him while he slept. He regarded their disturbance as a "diabolical temptation," which he met with patience and restraint, indicating his compassion towards other living creatures.
St. Francis was once given a wild pheasant to eat, but he chose instead to keep it as a companion. On another occasion, he was given a fish, and on yet another, a waterfowl to eat, but he was moved by the natural beauty of these creatures and chose to set them free.
"Dearly beloved!" said Francis beginning a sermon after a severe illness, "I have to confess to God and you that...I have eaten cakes made with lard."
The Catholic Encyclopedia comments on this incident as follows: "St. Francis' gift of sympathy seems to have been wider even than St. Paul's, for we find no evidence in the great Apostle of a love for nature or for animals...
"Francis' love of creatures was not simply the offspring of a soft sentimental disposition. It arose from that deep and abiding sense of the presence of God. To him all are from one Father and all are real kin...hence, his deep sense of personal responsibility towards fellow creatures: the loving friend of all God's creatures."
Francis taught: "All things of creation are children of the Father and thus brothers of man...God wants us to help animals, if they need help. Every creature in distress has the same right to be protected."
According to Francis, a lack of mercy towards animals leads to a lack of mercy towards men: "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the 'shelter' of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."
One Franciscan monk, St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231), who preached throughout France and Italy, is said to have attracted a group of fish that came to hear him preach. St. James of Venice, who lived during the 13th century, bought and released the birds sold in Italy as toys for children. It is said he "pitied the little birds of the Lord...his tender charity recoiled from all cruelty, even to the most diminutive of animals."
St. Bonaventure was a scholar and theologian who joined the Franciscan Order in 1243. He wrote The Soul's Journey into God and The Life of St. Francis, the latter documenting St. Francis' miracles with animals and love for all creation. Bonaventure taught that all creatures come from God and return to Him, and that the light of God shines through His different creatures in different ways:
"...For every creature is by its nature a kind of effigy and likeness of the eternal Wisdom. Therefore, open your eyes, alert the ears of your spirit, open your lips and apply your heart so that in all creatures you may see, hear, praise, love and worship, glorify and honor your God."
“The livestock population of the United States today consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed over five times the entire human population of the country.”
“We feed these animals over 80% of the corn we grow, and over 95% of the oats. Less than half the harvested agricultural acreage in the United States is used to grow food for people. Most of it is used to grow livestock feed.”
–John Robbins, Diet for a New America
"One man's meat is another man/woman/child's hunger."
This slogan is part of the "Enough" campaign, with its aim of reducing meat consumption. The campaign highlights the waste of resources involved in feeding grain to animals:
"Every minute 18 children die from starvation, yet 40% of the world's grain is fed to animals for meat."
Vegetarianism for a trial period is advocated to "help the hungry, improve the environment" and "stop untold animal suffering." Vegetarianism is also recommended on health grounds. This campaign actually has the support of organized religion.
Ronald J. Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action, in his 1977 book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, pointed out that 220 million Americans were eating enough food (largely because of the high consumption of grain fed to livestock) to feed over one billion people in the poorer countries.
The realization that meat is an unnecessary luxury, resulting in inequities in the world food supply has prompted religious leaders in different Christian denominations to call on their members to abstain from meat on certain days of the week. Paul Moore, Jr., the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New York, made such an appeal in a November, 1974 pastoral letter calling for the observance of “meatless Wednesdays.”
A similar appeal had previously been issued by Cardinal Cooke, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York. The Reverend Eugene Carson Blake, former head of the World Council of Churches and founder of Bread for the World, has encouraged everyone in his anti-hunger organization to abstain from eating meat on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
“Is this not the fast I have chosen? To loosen the chains of wickedness, to undo the bonds of oppression, and to let the oppressed go free? Is it not to share thy bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless? Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.”
“Honourable men may disagree honourably about some details of human treatment of the non-human,” wrote Stephen Clark in his 1977 book, The Moral Status of Animals, “but vegetarianism is now as necessary a pledge of moral devotion as was the refusal of emperor-worship in the early church.”
According to Clark, eating animal flesh is “gluttony,” and “Those who still eat flesh when they could do otherwise have no claim to be serious moralists.”
“Clark’s conclusion has real force and its power has yet to be sufficiently appreciated by fellow Christians,” says the Reverend Andrew Linzey, author of Christianity and the Rights of Animals. “Far from seeing the possibility of widespread vegetarianism as a threat to Old Testament norms, Christians should rather welcome the fact that the Spirit is enabling us to make decisions so that we may more properly conform to the original Genesis picture of living in peace with creation.”
Father Thomas Berry, a Catholic priest, author, and founder of the Riverdale Center of Religious Research in New York, wrote in 1987 that “Vegetarianism is a way of life that we should all move toward for economic survival, physical well-being, and spiritual integrity.”
In a speech before the World Council of Churches in September 1988, Dr. Tom Regan concluded:
“…the whole fabric of Christian agape is woven from the threads of sacrificial acts. To abstain…from eating animals, therefore, although it is not the end-all, can be the begin-all of our conscientious effort to journey back to (or toward) Eden, can be one way (among others) to re-establish or create that relationship to the earth which, if Genesis 1 is to be trusted, was part of God’s original hopes for and plans in creation.
"It is the integrity of this creation we seek to understand and aspire to honor. In the choice of our food, I believe, we see…a small but not unimportant part of both the challenge and the promise of Christianity and animal rights.”
In biology, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe calculated the probability of proteins forming from the random interaction of amino acids–the building blocks of Life. They found the odds were one out of ten to the 40,000th power. Given these extreme odds, it’s hard to imagine the self-organization of matter without the deliberate intervention of some kind of higher power or intelligence.
All life is thus precious and sacred. Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Francis Crick has admitted, “the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle.” Organized religion is just beginning to understand that the “sanctity of life” includes other species.
In a 1989 article entitled, “Re-examining the Christian Scriptures,” Rick Dunkerly of Christ Lutheran Church concludes, “…the Bible-believing Christian, should, of all people, be on the frontline in the struggle for animal welfare and rights. We who are Christians should be treating the animal creation now as it will be treated then, at Christ’s second coming. It will not now be perfect, but it must be substantial, otherwise we have missed our calling, and we grieve the One we call ‘Lord’, who was born in a stable surrounded by animals simply because He chose it that way.” Dunkerly teaches Bible studies at his home Church and is actively involved in animal rescue projects.
In 1992, members of Los Angeles’ First Unitarian Church agreed to serve vegetarian meals at the church’s weekly Sunday lunch. Their decision was made as a protest against animal cruelty and the environmental damage caused by the livestock industry.
The Reverend Marc Wessels, Executive Director of the International Network for Religion and Animals (INRA) made this observation on Earth Day 1990:
“It is a fact that no significant social reform has yet taken place in this country without the voice of the religious community being heard. The endeavors of the abolition of slavery; the women’s suffrage movement; the emergence of the pacifist tradition during World War I; the struggles to support civil rights, labor unions, and migrant farm workers; and the anti-nuclear and peace movements have all succeeded in part because of the power and support of organized religion. Such authority and energy is required by individual Christians and the institutional church today if the liberation of animals is to become a reality.”