Is ordering foie gras an ungodly choice?

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In a thoughtful essay titled ‘Animal Rights and the Church’ the Rev. Richard Benson explores from a religious perspective moral questions concerning the use of animals.

Writing in the Catholic newspaper The Tidings, Benson notes that Christians are asking more and more questions about such issues as animal testing and industrial farming practices. For example, is the production of foie gras -- a frequent target of animal rights activists -- inhumane?

‘So what is a Catholic supposed to think?’ Benson writes. ‘Is there a line between the rights of humans and the rights of animals? If there is a line, where is it?’

As part of his answer, Benson offers comments from Pope Benedict XVI.


In a 2002 interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, addressed the issue of foie gras himself, thus raising consciousness about it, especially in cultures that were historically insensitive to the abuse of the animals in its production:

‘We cannot just do whatever we want with them,’ he said. ‘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 living 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. Animals, too, are God’s creatures and even if they do not have the same direct relationship to God that human beings have, they are still creatures of God’s will, creatures we must respect as companions in creation.’

And speaking of animals and the pope, Benedict is a quite a lover of cats. In fact, his affection for felines inspired a book called ‘Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat.’

-- Steve Padilla