Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-apartheid work, published his first major statement on the subject of animal welfare. The famed human rights campaigner has turned his eye on animal rights, saying there are "other issues of justice--not only for human beings but also for the world's other sentient creatures." HuffPost has a transcript of the statement, which appears in the foreword to the Global Guide to Animal Protection:
The matter of the abuse and cruelty we inflict on other animals has to fight for our attention in what sometimes seems an already overfull moral agenda. It is vital, however, that these instances of injustice not be overlooked.
Tutu also likened injustice toward animals to that suffered by powerless people:
I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.
It is a kind of theological folly to suppose that God has made the entire world just for human beings, or to suppose that God is interested in only one of the millions of species that inhabit God's good earth.
Other world religious leaders have recently expressed empathy for animals as well, HuffPost points out:
The Dalai Lama attended World Compassion Day in Mumbai to promote animal welfare in 2012, where he said, "Now, with regard to animals, they not only have life, but feelings of pleasure and pain too. We should treat their lives with respect, which we Tibetans are accustomed to do."
Pope Francis has voiced his support for animal rights too, emphasizing the need to care for all of Earth: