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THE CATHOLIC STUDY CIRCLE
FOR ANIMAL WELFARE

From a sermon given by
Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890)

lambleft.jpg (4091 bytes)You will observe that our Lord is called a Lamb in the text; that is, He was as defenceless and as innocent as a lamb is. Since then Scripture compares Him to this inoffensive and unprotected animal; we may without presumption or irreverence take the image as a means of conveying to our minds those teachings which our Lord’s sufferings should excite in us. I mean, how horrible it is to read the account which sometimes meet us of cruelties exercised on animals.

Does it not sometimes make us shudder to hear and tell of them, or to read them in some chance publication which we take up? At one time it is the wanton deed of barbarous and angry owners who ill treat their cattle or beasts of burden; and at another it is the cold blooded and calculating act of men of Science, who make experiments on animals, perhaps merely from a sort of curiosity.

I do not like to go into particulars, for many reasons, but one of those instances which we read as happening in this day and which seems more shocking than the rest is when the poor dumb victim is fastened against a wall, pierced, gashed and so left to linger out its life. Now do you not see that I have reason for saying this, and am not using these distressing cases for nothing? For what was this but the very cruelty inflicted upon our Lord? He was gashed with the scourge, pierced through hands and feet and so fastened to the Cross, and there left, and that as a spectacle. Now what is it that moves our very hearts and sickens us so much as cruelty shown to poor animals? I suppose this first, that they have done no harm; next that they have no power whatsoever of resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which make their sufferings so especially touching. For instance, if they were dangerous animals, take the case of wild animals at large; much as we might dislike to hear of their wounds and agony, yet our feelings would be of a very different kind.

But there is something so very dreadful, so satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have weapons neither of offence nor defence, that none but very hardened persons can endure the thought of it.