I am a Catholic nun — and an animal lover — which means Oct. 4 is a very special day to me. It is on this day that we celebrate Saint Francis’ feast day. While he was alive, Francis of Assisi honored all of God’s creation, including the animals. With this in mind, churches around the country hold special services on his feast day in which animals are blessed.
When God created the world, he designed it to be like heaven, with people and animals all living together in peace. We were to care for the animals, not persecute them. Because of the original sin, we are where we are — in a troubled world in which we destroy animals on a massive scale without a thought for their feelings.
Animals suffer at humans’ hands in many ways, but perhaps the greatest number suffer in the meat industry. Each day, millions of animals’ cries go unheard in huge factory farms and slaughterhouses. Yet the chickens, pigs, cows, turkeys and other animals are all marvelous creations of God. I believe God didn’t mean for us to rob these animals of everything they hold dear. Let us address this agony, not just worry about whether these lovely beings’ flesh carries some mortal disease.
Many, myself included, find a vegetarian diet satisfying, healthful and, best of all, kind. Some also believe it to be consistent with Christian teachings. The very first vegetarian society in the U.S., for example, was founded by the Christian Bible Church, whose members held that the Bible teaches us to be vegetarian.
Clergy of all faiths can do more. I urge them to speak out on behalf of animals who suffer. I ask them not to remain silent when a few words and prayers could do so much to help. As Saint Francis himself said: “Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission — to be of service to them wherever they require it.” For more information on vegetarianism, call 1-888-VEG-FOOD.
Sister Mary Vianney,