The Vatican released Pope Francis’s new encyclical on the environment, and it is truly historic. The encyclical, or letter, from the Pope is full of references to animals and calls on all of us to embrace a more humane path. The encyclical is named “Praised Be” (Laudato Si) after St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun, in which the Saint praises God for animals and creation.
In the encyclical, the Pope reminds us, “We read in the Gospel that Jesus says of the birds of the air that ‘not one of them is forgotten before God’ ( Lk 12:6). How then can we possibly mistreat them or cause them harm?”
The Pope also calls on us all to be better stewards of all creation, noting that “[e]ach organism, as a creature of God, is good and admirable in itself.” He condemns the view that humankind has “absolute domination over other creatures” as a misinterpretation of God’s grant of “dominion” over creation.
The Pope notes that “our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings. 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’.”
And the Pope directly addresses animal testing, noting “the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that experimentation on animals is morally acceptable only if it remains within reasonable limits [and] contributes to caring for or saving human lives… human power has limits and that it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.”