Pope John Paul II: 'animals possess a soul'
When Pope John Paul II declared in a public audience in 1990 that 'also the animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren' some people must have thought this was a new teaching, unaware of the Holy Father's scholarly familiarity with the authentic Hebrew texts.
When he went on to state that all animals are 'fruit of the creative action of the Holy Spirit and merit respect' and that they are 'as near to God as men are', animal lovers in the audience were ecstatic!
The Pope mentions the special relationship of mankind with God as being created in His image and likeness. 'However,' he goes on 'other texts state that animals have the breath of life and were given it by God. In this respect, man, created by the hand of God, is identical with all other living creatures. And so in Psalm 104 there is no distinction between man and beasts when it reads, addressing God: " Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth." The existence therefore,' the Holy Father reminds us, 'of all living creatures depends on the living spirit/breath of God that not only creates but also sustains and renews the face of the earth.'
This discourse caused a stir around the world, and was especially encouraging to Catholic animal welfare groups which had begun to despair that anything 'animal friendly' would ever be heard in Rome.
submitted by Prayer Network Member, excerpt from Animal Liberation Front