“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness Thereof, Oh, God, enlarge within us the Sense of fellowship with all living Things, our brothers the animals to Whom Thou gavest the earth as Their home in common with us . . . May we realize that they live not For us alone but for themselves and For Thee and that they love the sweetness Of life.”
— St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea (330-379)
“The saints are exceedingly loving and gentle to mankind, and even to brute beasts. . . . Surely we ought to show [animals] great kindness and gentleness for many reasons, but, above all, because they are of the same origin as ourselves.”
— St. John Chrysostom (347-407)
“Since factory farming exerts a violent and unnatural force upon the living organisms of animals and birds in order to increase production and profits; since it involves callous and cruel exploitation of life, with implicit contempt for nature, I must join in the protest being uttered against it. It does not seem that these methods have any really justifiable purpose, except to increase the quantity of production at the expense of quality—if that can be called a justifiable purpose.”
— Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Excerpts from an interview with Cardinal Ratzinger by German journalist Peter Seewald
Seewald: Are we allowed to make use of animals, and even to eat them?
Ratzinger: That is a very serious question. At any rate, we can see that they are given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them. Animals, too, are God's creatures, and even if they do not have the same direct relation to God that man has, they are creatures of his will, creatures we must respect as companions in creation and as important elements in the creation.
As far as whether we are allowed to kill and to eat animals, there is a remarkable ordering of matters in Holy Scripture. We can read how, at first, only plants are mentioned as providing food for man. Only after the flood, that is to say, after a new breach has been opened between God and man, are we told that man eats flesh...Nonetheless...we should not proceed from this to a kind of sectarian cult of animals. For this, too, is permitted to man. He should always maintain his respect for these creatures, but he knows at the same time that he is not forbidden to take food from them. Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.
— Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, leader of the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
- Now Pope Benedict XVI