Animal Protection



I am new to this forum and apologise if this topic is in the wrong thread (please move it if so :slight_smile: )

I work as an teacher in a Catholic school and a few days ago I got talking with the kids about a topic that is very close to my heart. I take great guildance from St. Francis :slight_smile:

The treatment of animals. After some time some kids were asking what the Holy Father though, and I found this by him

When he was asked about cruelty to animals in a 2002 interview, he said, “That is a very serious question. At any rate, we can see that they are given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them. Animals, too, are God’s creatures… Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.” Cardinal Ratzinger was echoing official church teachings laid out in the Catholic Catechism, which states clearly that “Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals. . . . It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.

The children asked me to sign a following:

If some people here could sign also I think it would be of great benefit.

I know some people will disagree with me but i hope you can help.

Thanks for you time.


I have signed, but I normally sign petitions similar to these. I wonder however, how much good they do. It seems people have been signing anti seal hunting petitions for YEARS!


I agree completely with the OP. Perhaps do some research on factory farming as well though. It makes no sense to petition for a stop to seal hunting and animal experiments while supporting the horrendous conditions in which animals are kept in modern animal agriculture by purchasing and eating meat. Or by wearing fur or leather. Just a thought.


Thanks for you help.

I spoke to the children about this also, and they knew very little about factory farming. BTW I didn’t want to flood the forum with petitions. :wink:

I try to live my life in as ethical way as possible, and while I try not to force others to do the same I think we can all spread awareness especially to our children.


I completely agree. That is why I am vegetarian and plan on raising my children as such as well.


I understand the morality of not needlessly abusing animals. But, I don’t understand the morality of not eating them for food when one is hungry. Can someone please explain the basis for this morality? It would seem obvious that humans were made to be omniferous (natural diet of plant life and animal life), and that many animals were made to be eaten (what other purpose could a cow really have?)

Not eating animals would seem to be anti-animal. In the case of the most cows, if no one were to eat them, then farmers would not breed them, and many new potential calves would never be brought into existence. Is non-existence better than some existence with a clear purpose?

Somewhat unrelated; but we must eat other life forms to survive. Why do vegetarians pick on the dumbest most immobile life forms to eat exclusively? At least animals can try to get away when we try to catch them to eat them. Vegetables just have to sit there and wait to be eaten. Why is it more moral to eat plant life than animal life?

I can see how some can think these questions facetious, but these are serious questions for me.



This thread is not about eating animals or not and why but since you ask, just do some research. You do not need the flesh of animals in order to survive, and there is no excuse for the treatment that these sentient beings receive just for people’s gustatory pleasure.


The fact that horses, house pets, wildlife, and endangered species benefit from biomedical research involving lab animals is one that has long been missing from public discussion on this subject.


I agree with both of your statements. However they did not help with any of my questions.

Yes, it’s possible to survive eating only the flesh of plants, but does that make it the moral thing to do? It is possible to survive without drinking milk, so is drinking milk therefore immoral? If eating animals is inherently wrong, there has to be a different reason.

I agree that there is no excuse for causing meaningless suffering or death for animals. However, does not being served on a dinner plate bring meaning? If an animal is treated with kindness and respect during its life, can we not also eat it?

Am I wrong in my interpretation of the Bible that God demanded the death of animals in sacrifice to Him? If killing animals is inherently wrong, then why would he demand it, and why was he pleased with the sacrifice?

There appears to be the suggestion that “sentienticity” is the judge by which life should be valued. This seems very humanistic and anti-Catholic to me. Such values have led others to justfiy abortion and mercy killing. Why should we value sentient life more? The Church teaches that the value of man is his immortal soul, not the fact that he is sentient. Are the plants then second-class to animals in God’s kingdom because he apparently did not gift them with much sentience? Is that why its not at all wrong to cut them down and eat them?

I asking the questions because I do not understand,



No one says eating animals is inherently wrong. But today, in the present state of affairs, it is highly unethical, considering 1) the scientific/medical/nutritional knowledge that we now have, 2) the horrendous conditions in which the animals are needlessly exploited (see CCC 2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly) 3) the harm that animal agriculture brings to the envrionment 4) our health, the way our bodies were designed 5) the fact that the grain fed to cattle for slaughter can feed many more starving people than the flesh of the cattle could. no one equates animal and human life. But having been mad ein the image of God, knowing right from wrong, and having been given stewardship over God’s creation, we should honor that by respecting God’s creation and his creatures, not by abusing them. Meat is a luxury and is unnecessary. Yes, it may taste good, but not everyhting appealing to the senses of the body is the right thing to partake in.

Thank you for the questions and for wanting to understand. Please feel free to PM me, i’d be happy to give you more specific info if you are interested. I just don’t want to derail this thread, since this isn’t really what the op was about. I only meant to make a food-for-thought comment. And after being subject to repeated disrespectful comments on threads on which i have tried to inform on this topic, I no longer have the patience for making it the topic of any thread. thanks for understanding.


But whatever the research is for, lab animals are treated as objects in the labs, sometimes just to satisfy scientists curiosity. With all the technology we have, I am sure they can figure out a more ethical way of researching some things. These are topics very important to teach young people about. Statistically, people who anuse animals are more likely to abuse a person. Maybe if we didn’t even treat animals in such a way, it would bring more value to human life in the minds of society. If it is ok to do whatever in the world to an animal in a lab, why not also to stem cell research, or use unwanted fetuses, or the very infirm? It is only going to snowball, and society is going to try to get away with more and more in the name of “research.” That can all be prevented if it is stopped now. i.e. something like “Look, we don;t even use *animals *in labs anymore-- how can you think about using a human fetus??”


May i ask a follow up question. Do you think the experiements that the Nazis did in the camps which resulted in information used to launch rockets and the like is of benefit to us today? Do you think the experiments they did were wrong? Would you disagree if the experiments we carry out on animals were instead carried out on disabled people or orphans instead?


It has been also proven that a lot of the results we get from animal experimentation is different when they are carried out on us the general public, many toxic substances are hareless to animals while deadly to us and vise versa. Computer models are quick and reliable, while animal testing depends on a huge amount of factors. I think it’s unChristian to experiment on animals as it casuses unnessary suffering.


I think if an animal is treated kindly and given due respect then eating it is not wrong (in my opinion) but if people choose not to eat meat, then i have full respect for their choice. For example we get all our eggs from a local farm, where we see the chickens run around every day, also the chicken meat too. It’s more expensive but it doesn’t contain the crazy chemicals that exist in the high production farming. The beef we eat comes from cows which we can trace back to the farm, i don’t know how it works in the USA but in Ireland we see the cattle everyday.


I took your suggestion and responded to your other post with a PM. Since you took on this new direction in the thread, I thought I would reply here also.

There appears to be confusion between ‘abuse’ and ‘use’. We should not ‘abuse’ animals. But we should ‘use’ them for their natural purpose. They are gifts from God. Not to use them for their natural purpose is turning our backs on God’s gift. How can plants be gifts from God for us to eat, and animals not. Makes no sense.

I don’t think your logic about the respect for animals naturally increasing respect for humans applies in reality. There seems to be a strange correlation between those that are pro-choice and prot-embryonic stem cell research with those that are pro-animal. Aren’t those two positions considered to be perfectly acceptable to liberals?

What I suggest is happening is that the outcome of promoting ‘animal rights’ near to the level of ‘human rights’ is in reality leading people to believe, in error, that humans are not much better than animals. That is serious error.



Ok, CCC quotes from the same section:

2417 it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice … if it contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

2418 It is … unworthy to spend money on (animals) that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

So the more compelling question is, why are we spending all this money on pet food and vets when this food and medical expertise (ok, not vets but take that training to make those people doctors) could be redirected at the poor.

I could respect a position of someone promoting a vegetable diet for people using a “feed the poor” argument if you also argue against pet ownership. At least that is consistent. But those people are few and far between.


I am aware of those sections as well. Also:
2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animal, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for the moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by the concern for the quality of life of his neighbour, including generations to come; it requires a religious **respect for the integrity of creation. **

2416 Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

you left out a few things in these two.

2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals, if it remains within reasonable limits, is a morally acceptable practice since it contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

2457 Animals are entrusted to man’s stewardship; he must show them kindness. They may be used to serve the just satisfaction of man’s needs.


No one is equating human and (non-human) animal life (parenthesis to remind that homo sapiens IS in the kingdom animalia). I am pro-life. Not just human life, but all sentient life, and I choose an ethical diet to reflect that, and I commend it to everyone. It is very in line with Christian stewardship and respect for God’s creation.


What do you define as sentient life? And why does that determine your respect? What if a particular human being is not sentient?



You’ve not come right out and said it, but it appears fundamental to your suggestion, so I will ask.

Is it an abuse of an animal to eat it?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit