Is Man an animal?

I homeschool my children and have used a wide variety of science books. I am looking for a simple answer (?) – is Man an animal? Most books say Man is, and furthermore is a mammal. However, since Man is both body and soul, I believe Man is NOT an animal. Fellow homeschooling mothers disagree with me. Please let me know the answer, and if the definition is in the CCC – I couldn’t find it. Thanks.

Dear Mary,

On this earth we have mineral, vegetable and animal. Man certainly does not fit the first two. Man is aminal. The word comes from the Latin anima (breath) plus animalis (living). To animate is to give life or movement. The dictionary’s first definition speaks of all beings belonging to the Animalia kingdom which includes humans as well as lower life. The second definition refers only to lower life. This is the common way we use the word.

We share much of our physical side with lower animals. Unlike them, our brains are much more developed and our souls are immortal.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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