© Associated Press

TORONTO, July 24, 2002 - Pope John Paul II deserves tremendous praise for his concern over the protection of animals and nature according to The Humane Society of Canada (HSC).


"In the past, he has taken a strong stand on behalf of the creatures with whom we share this planet," said Al Hickey, Western Regional Director of The Humane Society of Canada (HSC). "But the animals we care about so deeply, are facing more clear and present dangers than ever before," said Hickey.

That’s why during World Youth Day, the charity is hoping that the Pontiff will send another powerful message urging youth and people everywhere to embrace the protection of animals from cruelty and to work together and help heal a wounded planet.

© Associated Press

"Whether they soar through the heavens, race across the earth, or swim through the ocean depths, animals are our companions and they deserve our help," said Michael O’Sullivan, HSC Executive Director. "We need to remember that humans are a part of, and not apart from, nature."

There is also evidence that early childhood abuse towards animals can lead to later violent behaviour towards people. The cycle of violence it seems is continuous. People, animals and nature are all bound inextricably together in the web of life. "If the animals suffer, then so does everyone else," he said.

The organization would also be grateful if the Pontiff would specifically condemn blood spectacles like bullfights and cruel fiestas involving animals, which take place in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, where the Catholic religion is predominant. O’Sullivan believes that the Pontiff can continue to play an important role in working with other religious leaders to encourage kindness towards animals.

The Humane Society of Canada is hoping that based on his past statements, the Pontiff will consider including animals and nature in his remarks during World Youth Day:

  • Pope John Paul II has stated that "animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity towards our smaller brethren" (19th January 1990, public audience by the Pope)
  • During his last visit to Canada, the Pontiff spoke of the beauty of our fields and forests and how he had wished for more time to walk in the woods vibrant with colour and with his "ears filled with the songs and voices of animals" (God’s Broker: The Life of John Paul II as Told in His Own Words by Anton Gronowicz, 1984); and in the same book recounts that:
  • The night before his departure from Canada to New York, he had a disturbing dream about the plight of a mother and her kittens trying to find food and shelter on a cold winter’s night
  • The Pontiff also said that "the solicitous care, not only towards men, but also towards animals and nature in general is a faithful echo of the love which God in the beginning pronounced his ‘fiat’ which brought them into existence; and we, too, are called to a similar attitude" (Message of Reconciliation, Assisi, Italy, 1982)
  • Pope John Paul II signed a Joint Declaration on Articulating Environmental Ethics with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople stating in part "protecting the environment is a moral and spiritual duty" (10th June 2002).

"As we enter the new Millennium, we leave behind a wake of destruction and extinction without parallel in human history. So far, all we have learned from history is that we can’t seem to get along with anyone, even ourselves. If we are ever to have a chance at Peace on Earth, this has to end," said O’Sullivan.

"We must turn our violence into compassion. Our greed into generosity. And our short term selfish needs into selfless long term acts of kindness," he said.

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Society-of-Canada/211468055538280

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

The only organization of its kind, seven days a week, The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works across the street, across Canada and around the world helping people, animals and the environment.

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) depends entirely on donations to support our programs to help animals and the environment. All donations are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt for income tax purposes. If you would like to support our educational campaigns that protect animals and the environment please make a donation here. Because when it comes to fighting cruelty and violence, we don’t give up. Ever.