Pets a Problem?

On the whole, I don’t think so.

I wasn’t terribly impressed with Father John Flynn’s commentary “For the Love of Pets.” In the Christian tradition, affection and respect for animals has been considered a sign of sanctity. Cruelty to animals is widespread in the world, and too many human beings have abandoned their God-given responsibilities as stewards of animals.

That’s not to say that some individuals don’t take affection for pets to extremes. Cloning pets, personhood initiatives, excessive expenditures for funerals–all speak to the great emptiness in human beings: loneliness.

Margaret Somerville:

In other words, if animals become persons, human persons become animals.

I don’t think so.

Many animal-obsessed persons turn to pets for a variety of reasons, most having to do with circling themselves with a degree of emotional safety and comfort. I hardly think that such people are out to place their entire species in subservience to others. We could do a lot worse than to support efforts to moderate the cruelties of the world. To both people and animals.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to Pets a Problem?

  1. Great post, Todd. Period.

  2. Having recently lost three much-loved animal companions, I find myself disgusted with Flynn’s commentary and comforted by yours.

    The cat “girls” (yes, so what if I called them that) all died of age-related complications within five months of one another.

    Two of them, Thelma and Louise, were with me for 14 years and provided steady evidence of grace during difficult times that included the death of a parent, a marriage, a career and significant health challenges. Itty Bit, who looked very much like the kitty in the photo with your post, was along for a decade of that journey.

    I could not have anticipated the depth of the grief I’m feeling these days. And because of my faith, I know enough to thank God that I have that depth of feeling for such fine, furry representatives of God’s creation.

  3. That was a rather sad article, wasn’t it? It seems Margaret Somerville not only doesn’t understand biology (we are animals), but ignores even Catholic tradition. One of my favorite stories of St Francis of Assisi was the one with Brother Wolf.

  4. RP Burke says:

    1. Well said, Todd, about animals, the “least of these.”

    2. Margaret Sommerville fails Logic 101, assuming that if a statement is true its converse is also true ipso facto.

  5. What do you expect? It’s Zenit.

  6. FrLarry says:

    I don’t know who this Fr. Flynn is, but what a lack of knowledge of the Catholic tradition is on display here! Hagiography alone provides many instances of the saints and their great care for animals. (St. Martin de Porres especially – even more of an animal lover than St. Francis!) Thomas Aquinas even commented that animal cruelty often leads to human cruelty. The Nazi SS trained soldiers to kill animals in a cruel way to harden soldiers up to kill humans. Studies of serial killers tend to show animal cruelty in their past history. One patristic commentary on the parable of the lost sheep seems to indicate that the lost sheep is the human race which sinned, whereas the other sheep (the rest of creation) did not stray. There are excesses, to be sure, but I find better treatment of animals a good sign in the progress of humanity. Perhaps by treating animals better, we will learn to treat human beings better.

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