Tag Archives: animal advocacy

Why I set up a petition to call on the Catholic Church to do more for animals.

By Virginia Bell. 

For 2000 years the Catholic Church has virtually ignored issues about how animals have a right to our sense of justice, compassion and morality. Animals are almost never mentioned during Mass, either in sermons or in the bidding prayers.


We humans exploit animals for food, clothes, sport, entertainment, medical experiments etc… But if we stop to think about this, surely we would realise that the logic of such exploitation means:- the strong can exploit the weak; the end justifies the means; the superior, more intelligent or holier can exploit the inferior, less intelligent or less holy. Think about it a bit more and surely we would see that vices cause us to exploit animals – greed/ self-interest/ materialism/ lack of compassion/ arrogance/ self-indulgence; while virtues cause us to oppose exploitation – humility/ love/ compassion/ seeing the presence of God in all things, and treating everything with respect.


I have set up an online petition asking the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, under the auspices of the Bishops’ Conference, to establish a Committee ‘on matters of responsibility and justice towards our fellow creatures’.


A Committee on Animals would enable the Church to focus attention on the moral aspect of how we treat animals, and would create a platform for expressing our concerns on these matters to the teaching body of the Church.  It would immediately improve the status of animals, and would be a model for other Bishops’ Conferences.


The Reverend James Thompson.


The Rev. James Thompson, known as the Animals’ Padre, has died.  He was 84 and died peacefully in hospital, with his family.

This photo, accredited to Doreen and used with thanks,  shows James blessing a lamb.

This photo, accredited to Doreen and used with thanks, shows James blessing a lamb.

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.

By MH.