Bishops consider blood sports at meeting
07 March 2007
The bishops of Ireland considered the issue of clergy involvement in blood sports at their latest general meeting, ICABS has been told. The bishops have thanked us for drawing their attention to the continued practice of hunt blessings.
In a letter to the Irish Bishops Conference last November, ICABS highlighted the latest instances of clergy involvement in hunting and coursing and renewed our appeal for the issue to be addressed. Brought to the conference's attention was a priest who presented a coursing award, a priest acting as a hunt master and a priest who blessed a foxhunt.
In our correspondence, we appealed to the bishops "to convey to priests the inappropriateness of associating with or participating in hunting or coursing".
"Blood sports such as foxhunting and hare coursing are contrary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and should be shunned by members of the clergy," we pointed out. "We hope that 2006 will mark an end to this unfortunate link between priests and activities involving cruelty to some of God's most vulnerable creatures."
In a letter recently sent to ICABS, the Executive Secretary of the Irish Episcopal Conference, Revd Aidan O'Boyle replied: "Your letter was brought to the attention of all of the Bishops at their December General Meeting [and] the specific cases you highlighted in regard to the involvement of certain clergy in blood sports were brought to the attention of the relevant Bishops."
"The Bishops have asked me to thank you for bringing these instances of involvement in blood sports to their attention," he added.
ICABS has previously welcomed an announcement by the Irish Bishops Conference that they are opposed to priests blessing hunts or accessing church property (please see news item below). We will continue to urge the Irish bishops to condemn blood sports.
Please write to your local bishop and appeal to him to publicly condemn the hunting of animals with packs of dogs. Highlight that blood sports are contrary to the Catholic Catechism.
Paragraph 2418 states that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly" while Paragraph 2416 states: "Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals."
Irish Bishops don't condone hunt blessings
The Irish Bishops' Conference have announced that they do not condone the blessing of hunts by members of the clergy.
A letter to ICABS from Executive Secretary, Reverend Aidan O'Boyle, confirmed that the "involvement of some members of the clergy in blood sports" had been discussed in recent times by the bishops at their quarterly meetings in Maynooth. However, while stressing that the Bishops' Conference "would not condone the practice of priests blessing foxhunts", he indicated that it was an issue to be dealt with locally.
"The Bishops' Conference is of the view that the practice of priests blessing foxhunts, and indeed the regulation of access to Church land for hunts, is a matter for the local diocese where these practices are happening," he wrote.
ICABS welcomes the bishops' condemnation of hunt blessings and hope that the individual bishops which make up the Conference will act at a local level to prevent further such blessings.
We will continue to press the Catholic authorities to unequivocally denounce blood sports and to prevent priests from partaking in these cruel activities. A small minority of priests around Ireland continue to flout the Catechism of the Catholic Church by supporting or partaking in foxhunting and hare coursing activities.
According to paragraph 2418 of the Catechism, "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly." Paragraph 2416 states the following: "Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals."