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.