MAN, " by God's will master of the universe", has a right to kill animals for his own welfare, stated the Holy Father last Saturday in an address delivered to Rome slaughterhouse workers.
The Pope warned, how ever, against useless cruelty in doing so. "To make use of the animals, man unfortunately must often cause them to suffer, must often kill them," he said. "In this there is nothing blameworthy in itself."
His Holiness spoke of the animals, unaware of their fate, which are driven to the slaughterhouse, killed, and quartered in a matter of minutes, Such a scene was not of the kind which would be offered to the sight of everyone, he added.
" it would however be a mistake to consider blameworthy the killing of animals needed as food for men." he said, and quoted the words of St. Paul: " For all things are yours . . and you are Christ's."
Sufferings must he reduced to a minimum, the Pope said, and useless cruelty must be banned; but there was no place for unjustified regret. " The moans of the animals felled and killed for just reason should not cause more than reasonable sadness."
No one felt sorry, he remarked. for " the hammer blows on incandescent metals, the rotting of seeds in the earth. the sigh of pruned branches. the falling of ears of corn under the action of the harvester, the wheat crushed in the mill."
Work in slaughterhouses, His Holiness said, was .therefore just and, under certain conditions.
praiseworthy. However, the killing of animals for the welfare of man became praiseworthy only when performed by men who observe the law of God.
" If. then, everything on earth Iselongs to man. he is by God's eill master of the universe."
declared the Holy Father. This was because "all men and all things must be in the service of God; all men and all things must glorify Him."
"But material creatures, lacking knowledge and will, arc unable to render formal glory to God: for only men know God, can praise and love Him; only men can live consciously according to the rules of His law," he continued.
"Therefore, by Divine rule, the minerals will serve the plants, the plants will serve the animals, the animals will serve man, so that through man they may all serve God.'
" So that Christ may reign in your souls, it is necessary that sin be banned from them," the Pope reminded the slaughterhouse workers. " So that Christ may reign in your families, it is necessary that each of them becomes more and more of a shrine, where faithfulness between spouses is sacred and inviolable."
" So your work may belong to Christ, it is necessary that no one and nothing that is contrary to Him inspire or support any of your actions," the Pope added.
Commenting on this address by the Holy Father, a senior Vatican official stated that people who refuse to eat meat on the grounds that the Bible says "Thou shalt not kill" are misinterpreting the fifth commandment. which referred to men and not to other living creatures.
However, the official pointed out that it was a sin to kill animals wantonly, without specific reason.