It's not often that a religious leader delivers a letter worthy of a mic drop. But Pope Francis recently did just that - and it's great news for animals.
The pope implored the world in a letter last Thursday to recognize the unfortunate truths about how humans have affected the environment, and thereby harmed all of its beings, including animals.
The Pope finds his inner Bob Marley and says humans and animals are all interconnected."We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people. Every act of cruelty towards any creature is 'contrary to human dignity'."Sure, Pope Francis begins with the flowery topic of interconnection, but he quickly moves onto to more serious issues, such as ecological devastation. Humans cause the mass extinction of animals.
"Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right."Reddit/comradebatMention of God aside, the pope's message strikes a chord with scientists and anyone who has an appreciation for the world's biodiversity and humanity's effect on it. He urges people and governments to show respect for these species by making greater consideration for how we treat them.
Humans must take responsibility for the consequences of their actions."In assessing the environmental impact of any project, concern is usually shown for its effects on soil, water and air, yet few careful studies are made of its impact on biodiversity, as if the loss of species or animals and plant groups were of little importance. ... As a result, some species face extinction."Reddit/[deleted]The pope says humanity's economic ventures have overshadowed the basic needs of animals and plants. He shames those who prioritize financial gains over the health and well-being of animals.Animals are sentient beings, not property."It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential 'resources' to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves."Reddit/lnfinityThough animals are often used by humans, the pope makes distinctions between more appropriate uses and egregious violations of an animal's dignity.Some uses of animals, such as cruel experimentation, are generally unacceptable.
" ... experimentation on animals is morally acceptable only 'if it remains within reasonable limits [and] contributes to caring for or saving human lives'. ... The Catechism firmly states that human power has limits and that 'it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly." Reddit/HarryPolandSociety causes animals to suffer in many ways, including cosmetics testing, abusing animals for the sake of entertainment and substandard living conditions of factory farms.The pope, born with the name Jorge Mario Bergoglio, also explains why he chose Francis as his papal name.We can all learn something from the pope's namesake, St. Francis, the patron saint of animals.
"His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. ... Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour."Reddit/TheDoctorofCardiffSt. Francis is fabled for preaching to woodland animals, especially birds. The pope echoes this reverence for all earthly organisms and defends the seriousness of the saint's flowery sentiment.We are all connected to each other.
"Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth."Reddit/paracogHumans, animals and the world are all one. If the pope's sentiment sounds familiar, it's probably because he's not the first human to say such an important message. In 2015, Pope Francis follows a tradition of preachers who've felt a love of animals - from St. Francis in the thirteenth century to Bob Marley in the twentieth.