If we care about justice and consistency

Animals count less than humans but they still count
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The following comes from a July 15 story by Christina Gray in Catholic San Francisco.

Giving up meat is more than a Lenten sacrifice for Charles Camosy, assistant professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University, the Jesuit University of New York, and a lifelong Catholic.
After reading about factory farming practices while a graduate student, Camosy became convinced that if he wanted to be “authentically and consistently pro-life,” he would have to stop eating animals. Ten years later he has written a book he hopes will help convince Catholics to extend the principles of their faith to animals.
In For Love of Animals; Christian Ethics, Consistent Action, the 38-year-old moral theologian argues that Catholic ethics on the dignity of life and justice for the vulnerable are principles that can and should be extended to animals, broadening the acceptance of pro-life values in the process.
“Concern for the vulnerable is not a zero-sum game as if, somehow, caring more for animals means caring less for humans,” Camosy said in an email interview with Catholic San Francisco. “Indeed, consistently applying our pro-life principles makes them that more persuasive and effective.”
While Camosy is a vegetarian, the book is less about converting meat-eaters than it is a call to consciousness about the application of ethics and action in what some Christians consider a strictly secular arena.
“Christian justice means being consistent when applying our principles,” he said. “As pro-lifers, we care about the fetus because she is a vulnerable, voiceless, victim of violence.” If we care about justice and consistency, we will care about other vulnerable, voiceless victims of violence wherever we find them, he said.
From a Christian perspective, he said, animals may count less than humans, but they still matter quite a lot.
“Yes, we have dominion over animals,” Camosy said. “But whatever dominion means must be consistent with other passages of the Bible which surround it.” Those passages include the pronouncement that animals were considered “good” independent of human beings.
Camosy blames cultural forces such as “the overwhelming drive to consume,” violence and the “freedom to do as one chooses” for turning animals into mere “products,” making it easier for even Christians to turn a blind eye to how their own behavior and consumer habits are contributing to injustice and violence.
“When consumerism dominates our culture as it does today, the injustice done to vulnerable populations becomes virtually invisible,” he said.
Camosy said that even the faithful can be inconsistent in the application of their own ethical principles if it goes against self-interest. The result is ethical contradiction, which secular folk are just as prone.
“People ignore the dignity of the unborn because it would force them to confront uncomfortable positions on abortion – even when they generally favor nonviolence and protection of the vulnerable,” he said.
Camosy also discusses the “culture war” between Christians and animal advocates that he and other Catholic moral theologians including John Berkman of Regis College, the Jesuit school of theology at the University of Toronto, hope to end.
“Many traditional Christians associate animal rights activism as a challenge to their fundamental beliefs about God and about the value of human life,” said Camosy. “Their rejection of animal concerns becomes a way to defend their faith.”
Camosy provokes pro-lifers, on the one hand, to consider the implications of their consumption practices, and provokes animal advocates, on the other, to consider how their concern for vulnerable animals correlates to their moral outlook on the value of a prenatal human being.
Mary Eberstadt, a political conservative and a Catholic, wrote the introduction to Camosy’s book and praised it in National Review magazine. She said that Camosy convinces Catholics that “those of us who follow Jesus Christ,” in particular, “should give animals special moral consideration and attention.”


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  1. Tom Byrne says:

    Justice applies to persons and animals are not persons, for they have no rational souls. We may be said to owe justice to their Creator by using animals they way He intended, but not to any animal itself. Thus we do not employ animals wastefully, for that denies resources to our fellow men, nor cruelly, for that engenders habits that may lead us to treating people cruelly. I am especially concerned about any sort of “Catholic veganism”, since that is to revisits rules for clean and unclean foods long abolished in the New Testament. “Arise, Peter, kill and eat. What God hath cleansed let no man call unclean.” (Acts).

  2. Being a vegan is not a teaching of the Church.
    But what would someone expect from Catholics who do not read the Bible or the CCC ? – There merely make up their own Faith.
    I know one Priest from Fordham who is sad that they do not use the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” as a required text.

    This is what the Church teaches:
    CCC: ” 2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image.
    Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing.
    They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.”
    Also see respect for the integrity of creation: CCC #2415 – 2418. We also must be kind to animals since they are God’s creations.

  3. One must NEVER elevate animals to the status of humans. This is disordered.

    Animals for food, must Never be equated to the murder of approx. 1 Million innocent human beings each year in the USA for the convenience of others. (Abortion).

    Animals for food, must NEVER be equated to the murder of human beings through euthanasia.

    “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles” – Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict.

  4. Camosy seems like a birdbrain. Can’t we find some qualified people to teach at our Catholic colleges?

  5. Parents, make certain you have studied the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” with your juniors and seniors in high school before they graduate.

    With crackpot “THEOLOGIANS” like this,
    who make up the Catholic Faith as they see fit,
    elevating animals to that of human beings,
    at “Catholic” Jesuit Fordham University,
    no wonder so many Catholic kids lose their Faith at college.

  6. This guy sounds like another left wing social justice guy who is trying to water down Church teaching about the INTRINSIC EVILS of – – – Abortion and Euthanasia – – – with that of animals.
    Read between his lines.

    I have a sweet dog, and we all love him. But he does not equate nor should he be compared with human beings.

    This “THEOLOGIAN” wants prolife people to equate animals to human beings, and is trying to falsely use the Faith to do it. What a Pharisee !

  7. MIchael McDermott says:

    And Now for a Different Perspective – Christian if not quite Catholic:

    The coming Christian revolt By J. Matt Barber

    …Newton’s Third Law states: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

    For every law, regulation, activist court ruling or presidential edict that demands Christians violate their sincerely held religious beliefs and adopt a postmodern, moral relativist way of life, there increases, in exact proportion, the likelihood of widespread civil disobedience – disobedience of the sort we haven’t seen since the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and ’60s.

    Indeed, if, in the spirit of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., we, his fellow Christian travelers, must again face the water hoses, then face them we shall.

    As the recent Hobby Lobby decision reaffirmed, the government cannot legislate away religious free exercise. Where your desire, intense though it may be, for me to employ you despite your antagonistic values system, pay for your abortion, or host, photograph or otherwise bake a rainbow cake for your faux “wedding,” comes into conflict with my absolute right to religious liberty, the result is a forgone conclusion.

    I win, you lose.

    We have seen and will continue to see an exponential increase in Christian business owners refusing to violate God’s commands by complying with unconstitutional, immoral and unjust government dictates.

  8. JoJo Pepper says:

    More Frisco theology from the Diocese of Frisco. Tackling the big moral issues of our time! Next time we may also have to spare the wheat too probably…For Love of Veggies…after all that is also alive.

  9. Linda Maria says:

    I think that many people would agree– kindness to animals is a BASIC MORAL ISSUE!! FORGET THE LEFT-WING KOOKS, WHO ARE NOT CHRISTIAN!! Yes, the poor animals are not as humans– and yes, they FEEL PAIN!! (Angels are also not human, and do not receive the Eucharist, either, at Mass! Only the humans need Salvation!) The Bible has many contradictions. But as a Catholic— MUST I BE CRUEL?? REALLY?? NO!! I love God, and I love poor animals, pity their sad, helpless plights, and I have been a committed vegetarian (no seafood, either!) , for many long years, sort of “monk-style!!” I also never have anything in my home, that is a product of a poor animal, or has been tested on one! I have lived by this sacrificial ethical belief, for many long years! You could do it, too! Offer up your sacrifice, to God!! It’s worth it!! I choose to NEVER seek to cause PAIN to any helpless, brainless creature– so that I, the big, fat, ego-centric, selfish, American consumerist human being, can have SELFISH LUXURY, AN EASY LIFE, AND PLEASURE!! WHILE THEY CRY IN PAIN!!

    • No one espousing harming any animals Linda Marie. If fact cruelty would be wrong since they are God’s creatures.
      However, anyone who equates animals to human beings is a nut case.
      This “theologian” just wants to water down the those who are in favor of pro-(human)life issues. Well let him water down the left instead with his heresy and schism.
      The murder and torture of unborn human babies is an intrinsic evil, and does not even relate to food products.

  10. I wonder how many ill-catechized Catholics will follow this so-called “Theologian” ?
    Just one more heresy from the left now elevating animals to human beings.

    It’s more important that 16 & 17 year olds read the Bible and CCC, than ever before. Crack-pots are after their Souls.

  11. SandraD says:

    “moral theologian”–Not….he’s a nut case, like so many.

  12. Allan Wafkowski says:

    It seems to me that Camosy developed a personal belief about animals and then searched through Holy Scriptures looking for any tidbit that might be useful to extrapolate into his way of thinking

  13. St. Christopher says:

    Well, People, the animal rights agenda has advanced strong and smooth for so long, it is inevitable that you will see religious expression of the “moral” considerations against eating animals, per Prof. Camosy. You need to object to such, well, variations against logical and Catholic principle. At basis, Prof. Camosy seems mostly as an anti-consumerist. One wonders how much time “lifelong Catholic” Prof. Camosy devotes to (1) practicing the Tradition of his Faith, (2) opposing pro-homosexual sexual rights, (3) opposing abortion, (4) warning against fornication in all forms, including especially adultery, (5) warning against contraception, and (6) warning against the “wages of sin,” the realitiy of Hell, and the need for repentance. Just sayin’.

    • Tom Byrne says:

      A minister whose name I cannot recall once said that people make a religion of food and drink when they have ceased to make a religion of anything else.

      • Brian S. says:

        Beth, what makes you so confident that “No one (is) espousing harming any animals”? Mr. Camosy doesn’t believe that, and neither do I.

        You certainly are correct when you say that “cruelty would be wrong since they are God’s creatures”, but then you join in hooting down the man who joins you in saying it!

        Camosy does not “equate animals to human beings”, he does not “water down” pro-life issues, and he most certainly does not advocate heresy. In response, you scandalize against a man who has said nothing heretical, but who is simply advocating against what you yourself describe as sin.

      • That sounds like something Chesterton would have said…he couldn’t abide vegetarianism. http://lukescommonplacebook.tumblr.com/post/46736588/chesterton-on-vegetarianism-and-acting-upon-cravings
        Very amusing! (Why do vegetarians so lack a sense of humor?)

  14. Brian S. says:

    Did the folks who insist on putting “theologian” in quotation marks, or who resort to such childish name-calling as “birdbrain”, “crackpot”, or my favorite “left wing social justice guy” actually read the article?

    Catholic ethics on the dignity of life and justice for the vulnerable are not only principles that can and should be extended to our dietary habits, we are required to do so, just as we are to do so in all of the aspects of our life.

    Does anyone seriously disagree with this? The notion that there are spheres of life where our Catholicism may be ignored is precisely the argument, plied by then-New York Governer Andrew Cuomo and by every other “personally-opposed, but” abortionist politician since.

    Consistent application of the principles of dignity and justice is what we are commanded to do. This should include the rejection of the inhumane conditions in which animals are raised and killed today, it must at least include the consideration and judgement of those conditions, a consideration the name-callers foolishly reject out-of-hand..

    • Well Brian, I go to the trouble of buying my eggs from neighbors who let their chickens run free…I drive a longer distance to buy meat that is raised locally and killed humanely. I never eat meat on Fridays. Do you do anything to support humaneness to animals? I agree that terrible things are done to animals…I once worked in a psych lab and some of the most cruel, inhumane people on the planet are scientists. But look how people treat people!! Look how we treat our own innocent babies! Becoming a vegetarian May salve your conscience but it does nothing to help suffering creatures. My husband & I feed the birds and provide plants and trees for homes and shelters for rabbits, fox, deer and owls…we do what we can. The reason God rejected Cain’s offering and accepted Abel’s was because Abel understood that no animals died until God himself killed them to provide clothing and food for his parents when they were cast out of the Garden. God sacrificed them for us …and you’re too noble to use them?

      • Anonymous says:

        I presume you use the distinction “humanely raised and killed” to describe the animals you buy at least in part because you find the factory farming methods inhumane.

        Since we are to behave humanely in all aspect of our lives, it dismays me to see this teaching not just contested (as in – “factory farms are humane”, which would be a defense, if a false one) but trashed entirely, as if the humane action is not even to be considered, and laughed off as the moral equivalent of the Designated Hitter Rule!

        My personal actions have nothing to do with any of this, but I humanely raise chickens, eggs, and pork. Maybe I’m your neighbor!

        • Well, I doubt you’re my neighbor as he’s Amish with no electricity…let alone a computer! The unexamined life is not worth living , as Socrates said, and I respect anyone who is trying to live a just, moral life. Right now I’m much more concerned about Christian persecution, abortion and the future that we’re giving to our grandchildren. I note you didn’t address my comment on Gods sacrificing animals to clothe Adam and Eve…it’s all just a fairy tale to you,perhaps but vegetarians (I’m generalizing, to be sure) tend to be utterly self-absorbed and sanctimonious and could never justify their beliefs in the Bible, nor are they open to self-criticism, which is why there are so few Catholic vegetarians.

          • Brian S. says:

            Vegetarianism can be the result of a virtue run amok. While odd, I find it more appealing than the consumerism run-amok celebrated here by those attacking the man’s more sensible suggestions.

          • I think we’re on the same BrianS! Sorry for the confusion. I’ll bet your pigs are very happy. When I was small we used to try riding my uncle’s pigs and they didn’t like it much! (as I found out to my chagrin)
            They have personalities that are a little close to being human-like. Did you ever read the pig stories of James Herriot. Oh, my!

          • OOPS. “same PAGE”. sorry

          • Brian S. says:

            The Herriot stories are wonderful, aren’t they? While visiting England in the 80’s, I stopped by his real world practice, hoping to see him. No doubt many other fans did the same, that office is now a museum. He wasn’t in that day…

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      Brian S.,

      If my memory serves me correctly, you are also pro-homosexual marriage!

      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      Yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

      • Brian S. says:

        Your memory is incorrect.

      • What does that have to do with Prof. Carmosy’s postulate?

        Cal-Catholic violates its own comments policy (strive to be civil) when it permits
        ad hominem attacks and name calling.

    • Brian S., This man calls himself a “Theologian” because he has a PHd.
      Which many times means “piled higher and deeper”.

      He is not teaching according to the Catholic faith. In fact by equating abortion and euthanasia to
      eating meat from animals is heresy and schism – using Church definition (CCC 2089).

      Before you insert your foot in your mouth again, try reading the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” – which everyone who chooses to be Catholic must adhere to in entirety.

      I do suppose you are correct, that no one should call this guy a crack-pot, which is kinder than what he really is – a Catholic heretic and schismatic, and tool of the devil.

  15. St. Christopher says:

    “Brian S”: Nothing is more foolish than applying Catholic religious principles to animal raising and slaughtering, or to any dietary issues, or to the morality of The Designated Hitter Rule. The point of many is that Prof. Camosy trivializes the importance of religion, and of the single message of the Church — the Salvation of Man. Catholics are not Jews, who have the Kashrut, the observance of which is understood to represent obedience to God (not necessarily for health or other purposes). Review the dispute between Peter and Paul over circumcision, and the need to first become a Jew before a Christian: we are defined by our Faith, a key commandment of which is to lover our neighbor as our selves, not be sure to treat chickens humanely. Of course, no one wants outright cruelty to animals, and there are laws enacted to protect them, to a point. The problem with the logical extention of Prof. Camosy’s arguement is that you cannot ever eat animals, because the act of killing them, however accomplished, is wrong. Why is this believed by some? And why is any time spent at all even debating this, when there are so many critical issues at stake in our society. Finally, the notions of “dignity and justice” are broadly used to cover many, many evil things, like homosexual sex. These concepts are almost entirely subjective and squishy, and are often misused for these wrongful purposes.

    • Brian S. says:

      People certainly do want to practice cruelty to animals, as is evidenced by the well-financed campaigns mounted against every humane farming law ever introduced.

      Logical and illogical extensions are always a problem, if you say that one of humane farming is vegetarianism, one obvious from the posts here is that meat-eating can lead to the denial of any restrictions on the treatment of stock animals.

      Yes, dignity and justice are broadly used by those who intend no such thing. This is the debasement of words that the Church has given meaning. To restore them, She must use them, consistently and repeatedly, and in all aspects of living.

      That makes this topic, and the meaning of those words in this context, worth discussing.

      • I visited Hilltop Farm two or three times but didn’t look up Herriots village when in Yorkshire Dales. We did go to the Harrowgate Fair and saw the dog trials etc. One of the foremost trainers & breeders of Border Collies lived near us (Walt Disney made a film about him) but I didn’t want to raise sheep and those collies need to work! Well, I can feel the urge to swap animal ‘tails’ so I’d better stop. ;0)

  16. Linda Maria says:

    I think that what this KIND-HEARTED professor had to say– was very similar to the kind, saintly Lutheran missionary, Dr. Albert Schweitzer!! Can we not have LOVE and RESPECT– for the poor animals?? An animal has NOTHING TO DO– with crazy, liberal, atheist, left-wing activists! (I made my decision to love and care for animals, long before the SELFISH, SICK, DESTRUCTIVE 1960’s era!!) The poor animal is just there, on the Earth, and that is all! He is not Man, so sinful, and in need of Salvation, either! He is a poor, simple creature, has low thinking ability, and also known to be very kind and loving!! Regardless— now, what?? Want to go up to some poor animal, and hurt, torture, imprison, or kill him?? Experiment cruelly on him? Or eat him? Do we really need to do that?? YES?? I DON’T!! That is the whole thing!! The Jews had 613 daily laws to follow, which included strict kosher dietary laws, and this is all in the Bible! Well, regardless– Christ taught LOVE, and that is really what I believe in, while walking this brief “Pilgrim’s life,” on Earth, preparing for Heaven!!!!

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      Linda Marie,

      You are free to eat what you will, but don’t try to convince us that it is immoral to eat animals!

      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      Yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  17. Linda Marie, this is NOT a “KIND-HEARTED professor” but an educated “THEOLOGIAN” who happens to be a Catholic Heretic and Schismatic – using Church definitions.
    He is employed at Fordham which advertises itself as Catholic as a Christian ethics teacher. A graduate of Notre Dame, he believes he knows more than the Catholic Church teachings in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”.

    His actions clearly point to someone who wishes to water down Church teaching on the INTRINSIC EVILS of Abortion and Euthanasia.
    Human beings are not animals and should never be compared as such.

    If he merely wanted to write about being kind to animals – which would have been good, or even on his beliefs of the benefits of being a Vegan there would be nothing wrong with that.
    But anytime any educated “Theologian” raises animals to the level of human beings, or lowers humans to the level of animals – this is evil.

    And then he has the audacity to tell Pro-life Catholics what to do !

    “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles” by Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict).

  18. Brian S. says:

    Can one denounce the whipping of dogs or immolation of cats without being accused of minimizing the evil of abortion?

    Perhaps it is only the systemized animal tortures that provide ease and profits that earn that accusation.

    • We all would agree that no one should harm an animal Brian S.,
      so you and your ultra-liberal friends go work for animal rights groups.

      Us pro-lifers have too much work to do protecting humans.
      Only an idiot (or a nefarious Democrat) would try to distract us from the critical goal of saving human lives.

      • Brian S. says:

        Mac, you have certainly chosen the better task, and should receive the fullest appreciation that your display of self-rightousness deserves.

        However, I suggest you might consider what kind of culture comes to see children as disposable in the first place. I suggest that it is one that. like ours, celebrates consumerism, and sneers at anyone who suggests we temper our appetites.

        I guess there’s no need to look for you at the blessing of the animals next feast of St. Francis.

        • Brian, have you ever read Ann Lamott? I can’t remember if it was in “Crooked Little Heart” or what, but she describes walking on the beach and a man is there with his Golden Retriever and his cruelty to the dog carried over to everyone on the beach watching his brutality and saying nothing for all were afraid to confront him…it was such a sad, shocking story. It showed that people who are cruel to a beautiful gentle dog would be just as cruel to people. If we truly love God, we love his creatures as well. I think what you’re saying is just because we want to protect animals doesn’t mean we don’t care about people. I find it incredibly sad that many people love their pets more than they do the people in their lives, but it is also sad when people could care less what happens to animals or how the bacon got to their breakfast plate. God calls us to be faithful stewards toward His beautiful creatures but never forgetting our first duty is in the service of helping souls find Heaven. There’s a balance to be sought.

          • “Simplicity is God’s pruning shear which cuts back the tangled branches of our lives, enabling us to begin to live freely, sharing generously and loving deeply”. John Talbot

          • I always seem to have the last word. ;0)

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