The Rev. James Thompson, known as the Animals’ Padre, has died. He was 84 and died peacefully in hospital, with his family.
He conducted the service at the Animals War Memorial in London every year – in fact, he was instrumental in getting the tradition started, at the suggestion of his friend, Cynthia O’Neil, who had made a one-woman-and-one-dog appearance there to honour the animals one Remembrance Sunday.
He was also at Hillgrove, where he carried out services for the cats.
Khalid and I joined him in many protests, vigils and services over the years, in north Wales against live exports, at his animal blessings at the Baptist chapel in Holywell, in Chester for the turkeys at Christmas, and in Cambridge against vivisection labs – just a few examples of his witness. With Doreen, his wife and wonderful helpmeet, as he described her very recently, he even demonstrated outside the bullrings in SW France.
He was a lovely man, devoted and committed to helping animals all over the world and always ready to support his friends in other faiths and denominations. On his web site, he wrote of his visit in the 1990s to Germany:
“Pastor Michael Blanke was soon to invite us a second time to Germany; but this time we would end up as guests to the Catholic Dean of Wiesbaden. Indeed, the venue was the beautiful Catholic Church of The Holy Family. The Church was packed to capacity by animal loving worshippers of all the major denominations. And before the actual worship began I had been invited by the Dean to participate in Holy Communion. “Just give me a blessing Father, I understand your dilemma and a blessing will abundantly suffice at this morning’s Mass!” I said. His reply was “You will offend me greatly if you do not partake of the Blessed Sacrament”. Yes, it would be the first and only time that Doreen and I communicated in a Catholic Church. And then, as if this were not enough of a concession, the dear Priest later asked a lady Lutheran minister to preach and offer a prayer before I did similar on behalf of the Anglican branch of Christendom.
Indeed, as is usual, the animals were again on their best behaviour. It was incredible how well behaved they all were. And during their time of blessing near the end of worship a delightfully warm hearted and sensitive lady came forward. “May I speak to you?” she asked. “Of course!” I replied. Her words were something like this: “You understand, I’m brought up a Catholic and you a Protestant, and our churches have been kept apart from each other down the many years. Today the animals have brought us together as one and I am so very happy”. ”
Let us hope he is now reunited with all the creatures he prayed for in this world. We have lost a wonderful friend for the animals. Let us hold him, Doreen and the family in the Light.