A Papal Encyclical forms part of the official teaching of the Catholic Church, so this is a very important document. In fact, as a result of this Encyclical, the Vatican now states that an examination of the conscience should include a consideration of how we have related to animals and to the environment, as well as the usual how we have related to God, to other people and to ourselves.
In his recent Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ Pope Francis reminds us that the Church requires us to treat creatures with respect and kindness, and that, to quote him directly, ‘Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience’.
Think of the many cruel and unnecessary ways we exploit animals – battery cages, factory farms, blood sports, the fur trade, etc… I know some people want no attention given to animals, but that isn’t the view of the Pope. We can’t pick and choose when it comes to sins. Justice and morality should apply in all of our actions and decisions, and the Church teaches that causing unnecessary suffering to animals is a sin. This is clearly stated in the Catechism.
Pope Francis has called for dialogue and action concerning the care of what he calls ‘our common home’. The way we treat animals today is a major contributive cause of many of the serious problems facing the planet today, including climate change, loss of forests and loss of species. Being kinder to animals, which the Pope is calling for, would considerably improve the situation for the planet and for us humans.
In ‘Laudato Si’, the Pope urges us to take our duty to animals and to the natural environment seriously. One way to respond to the Pope’s call for dialogue and action is to join a local parish group to educate about and promote concern for our fellow creatures, and to be a witness in the local community to the Church’s concern for animals.
What better name for such a group than ‘St. Francis of Assisi Group’, thus honouring both the great Saint and the Pope who chose his name specifically in acknowledgement of St. Francis? As a local group we can bring the message of ‘Laudato Si’ into our parish life.
If you would like to know more about this group, please complete the Contact Form.