Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ new Encyclical on the Environment, is warmly welcomed by the Animal Interfaith Alliance. It represents a major paradigm shift in the Catholic Church’s attitude towards the Creation, nature and particularly to the other animals we share this planet with. Pope Francis attacks man’s ‘despotic anthropocentrism’ and highlights the interrelatedness and interconnectedness of all life. He has moved the Catholic Church away from the anthropocentric theology of St Thomas Aquinas, which views nature and other animals as being made solely for man’s use, and he reinstates the teachings of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals from whom he has taken his name, on the mystical unity man shares with nature.
Everyone is welcome to this talk by AIA director, Barbara Gardner, author of The Compassionate Animal, being hosted by the Cheltenham Interfaith Group on Thursday 25th June at 7.30pm at Friends Meeting House, Cheltenham.
When we are searching for ways in which different faiths can work together in harmony with one another, it helps to start with a common ground that all faiths share. Surprisingly, compassion for all living things is such a common ground. Many people think that including animals in our moral circle is not a foundation of all religions, only being relevant for the eastern traditions of Jainism, Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism. However, an analysis of the original teachings of all religions shows that there is much that teaches that animals should be included in our moral circle. They all have The Golden Rule in common, ‘Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself’, and those ‘others’ include all sentient, living beings.