RSPCA asks clergy to pray for animals

LONDON (Reuters) - The RSPCA, which reported in July that cruelty to animals is rising fast in “throwaway” Britain, has urged church leaders to pray for pets during special services next month.

Bystanders watch a Northern Bottle-nosed Whale in the river Thames near Battersea Bridge in south London, January 20, 2006. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

The Archbishop of Canterbury and other Christian leaders agreed to put the environment at the heart of their worship this autumn following an ecumenical assembly last year.

The RSPCA wants the churches to use this time to renew their focus on animals and re-examine duties towards living creatures.

“It is vital that Christians remember their specific responsibilities towards animals during this welcome renewal of environmental concern,” said Rev Andrew Linzey.

Linzey has written a booklet “Service for Animal Welfare”, published by the RSPCA charity.

“What we call ‘the environment’ or ‘creation’ comprises individual creatures, many of them sentient, who need our care,” he added.

He called for the clergy to organise services on October 5 that celebrate God’s creatures and underline the importance of behaving responsibly towards them, to coincide with Animal Welfare Sunday.

RSPCA Director General Mark Watts said faith groups can play an important role in helping people become more aware of their responsibilities in caring for animals.

“We hope they will seize the moment and take a lead in promoting responsible attitudes towards animals,” he added.

In its annual report in July, the RSPCA said cruelty to animals is on the rise, with as many as 137,245 alleged acts of cruelty to animals committed in 2007, a 12 percent rise on the previous year.

“These animals are the helpless victims of our affluent, throwaway society,” it said at the time.

“They’re bought on a whim and discarded when the novelty wears off. Today’s must-have item quickly turns into tomorrow’s cast-off.”

There was no immediate comment from the Church of England.

Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Steve Addison