Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism


1216. I would like you to comment on the enclosed letter, protesting against the conferring of the Cardinal Newman Foundation Prize upon Dr. Alexis Carrel for the invention of the mechanical, artificial heart.

I will deal with it from the Catholic viewpoint in due course.

1217. The letter quotes Cardinal Newman's opposition to vivisection, and expresses astonishment that his name could be associated with Dr. Carrel who specializes in vivisection.

Wrong use has been made of Cardinal Newman's words through misunderstanding, as I shall show later. Also, the protest does not do justice to Dr. Carrel.

1218. I wish to know how Cardinal Newman's words are viewed by the modern Catholic Church.

His words are quite in keeping with ordinary Catholic teaching, and I myself subscribe to all that he says. But I deny that the passage quoted can be taken as a condemnation of vivisection with reasonable safeguards against unnecessary cruelty.

1219. Do modern Catholics intend to protest against wrongdoing, and cruelty, and exploitation of public funds on false pretences in the name of cancer research?

The Catholic Church, now as always, protests against wrongdoing and any form of wanton cruelty. But we cannot protest against cancer research, and we do not admit that such research is wrong, nor that it involves an exploitation of public funds on false pretences.

1220. I am very strongly inclined to join your Church.

It is very important that you ask yourself why. It is possible that you have motives which incline you towards the Catholic religion, yet would not in the least justify you in becoming a Catholic. Do not imagine that I want to repel you from the Catholic Church. I would do all possible to bring you to it. But if people want to become Catholics, they must do so, not on their own terms, but with a full acceptance of all that the Church herself demands of us in the name of God. In other words, one who wants to become a Catholic must first believe wholeheartedly in the Catholic Church and all that she teaches. And lurking suspicions that she might be wrong in this or that point of her dogmatic teaching would be a sure sign that one had not received the gift of Catholic faith, and that one was certainly not yet in a position to become a Catholic.

1221. I can't quite believe in the doctrine of an eternal hell, however.

Then you certainly have not quite arrived at the stage in which you could become a Catholic. You have to make up your mind as to whether you will accept the Catholic Church as your guide as to what is or is not the teaching of Christianity, or whether your own ideas are more reliable than her official teachings. If you decide in favor of your own ideas, then you cannot become a Catholic.

1222. Also I can't understand why Catholics don't help more to prevent cruelty to animals.

That has no bearing on the question as to whether the Catholic Church is the true Church of Jesus Christ, or not. The Catholic Church, of course, condemns as sinful all wanton cruelty to animals. If any Catholics are guilty of such wanton cruelty, then they sin in that matter, just as people sin in other matters. But that would be no reason for not joining the Catholic Church, which condemns such conduct. At the same time, whilst the Church condemns wanton cruelty to animals, she places no obligation on Catholics to take a special interest in societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rather than in other good causes. And your own particular interest in this matter should not make you ready to condemn others who do not share your views of its importance, but who devote their attention to other aspects of welfare work in this world.

1223. There is a growing love for animals, and also a hatred of hurting anything or anybody, so that people don't like the thought of hell even for their enemies.

No Christian is allowed to like the thought of hell even for his enemies. But that does not justify us in denying the existence of hell and rejecting belief in the veracity of Christ. The growing love for animals, of which you speak, and the hatred of hurting anything or anybody, are quite all right within due limits. But they can easily become excessive and distorted tendencies due to a loss of respect for the dignity of man, and to the growth of effeminacy and degeneration which are destructive of the fortitude and courage required for true manhood.

1224. We protest against giving the Newman Foundation Prize to Dr. Carrel for his invention of the mechanical, artificial heart, because Dr. Carrel has devoted himself to vivisection in the interests of science and of suffering mankind.

You are free to hold your own opinion on that subject. But I do not think your protest justified, nor do I think that you advance any sound reasons for your views.

1225. If Cardinal Newman were alive, he doubtlessly would have refused to recognize with a prize the "inventions" and "scientific results" of Dr. Carrel.

I do not think that true.

1226. The noble-hearted Cardinal, as a true Christian, was firmly opposed to vivisection.

He was opposed to any abuses in the name even of scientific vivisection. But with due moderation and safeguards, he would not have opposed necessary investigations by experiment on living animals.

1227. Cardinal Newman said: "Does it not make us shudder to hear tell of cruelties exercised on brute animals, or to read them in some chance publication we take up? At one time it is the wanton deeds of barbarous and angry owners, who ill-treat

I agree with all that Cardinal Newman has there said. But the whole passage is not more than a condemnation of wanton cruelty, and abuses by excess on the part of vivisectionists, above all when the motive is mere curiosity. But Cardinal Newman would not have condemned vivisection undertaken with all possible safeguards against unnecessary pain, when the definite object in view was the discovering of something truly beneficial to humanity, and which might alleviate untold human suffering. Thus, when preaching in the University of Ireland, he said: "We have no duties towards the brute creation; there is no relation of justice between them and us. Of course, we are bound not to treat them ill, for cruelty is an offence against that holy Law which our Maker has written on our hearts. But they can claim nothing at our hands; into our hands they are absolutely delivered. We may use them, we may destroy them at our pleasure, not our wanton pleasure, but still for our own ends, for our own benefit or satisfaction, provided we can give a rational account of what we do."Those words of Cardinal Newman would certainly sanction vivisection, with due precautions, were there the remotest chance of discovering the causes and cure of cancer, and thus deliver humanity from that scourge.Again, in his lectures on the Present Position of Protestants in England, Cardinal Newman stressed the necessity of being guided by principles. And he used this illustration:"Various benevolent persons have exerted themselves in favor of the brute creation, which endures so much wanton suffering at the hands of barbarous owners. But when these good people made excessive demands, men laughed at them, and would not condescend to reason with them. But they had reasons, and these reasons will be found traceable up to this First Principle, that the Creator has placed inferior animals absolutely in our hands, that we have no duties to them, and that there is as little sin (except accidentally) in taking away a brute's life as in plucking a flower or eating an orange. This being taken for granted, all questions are in their substance solved, and only accidental difficulties remain."So speaks Cardinal Newman. In his view, vivisection would be accidentally wrong, if due precautions were not used to prevent unnecessary pain, and if no good purpose were being served in the experimental operations.

1228. The Newman Foundation Prize for Dr. Carrel would be treason to the Foundation, a stain on the venerable name of Newman.

You have misinterpreted the mind of Cardinal Newman with whose writings you cannot be very familiar.

1229. Dr. Carrel should have tactfully refused the prize, knowing the late Cardinal's rejection of vivisection.

Cardinal Newman did not reject vivisection. He condemned abuses and excessive cruelties, as we all do.

1230. All who disavow vivisection from the moral Christian point of view as well as the medical, should wipe out this stain in our culture, and see that every vivisectionist is called to account as a criminal.

Neither medical principles nor the Christian moral law forbid vivisection; nor is it a stain in our culture. To avoid useless animal suffering, of course, the law should insist that experiments should be reasonably necessary, that anaesthetics should be employed, and that operations should take place only under the supervision of appointed officials.

1231. Either the vivisectionist does not know what he is doing, and should be in a lunatic asylum; or he does know, and should be sent to gaol as a criminal.

You have let your heart run away with your head. It is possible for a vivisectionist to be neither mad nor bad, but quite a good man bent on the service, and a most valuable service, of his fellow human beings.

1232. Vivisection is a diabolic, satanic crime, which can only be committed by a man who has no heart and does not know the great commandment of love.

That is so absurd and extravagant that it does not deserve comment.

1233. People would stone the vivisectionists if they saw those torturers at their monstrous experiments on living animals.

That is sheer emotionalism. Not a word in that sentence has been dictated by reason. If some poor aboriginal went into a modern operating theatre and saw a surgeon plunge his knife into his son, he might be excused for slaughtering the surgeon, knowing nothing of the boy's unconsciousness of pain, and of the sheer necessity of the operation. And many a vital operation which is successful in saving human life has been made possible only by necessary experiments on living animals, and observance of effects on living tissue. The frantic panic of a primitive aboriginal with no understanding of what is being done may be excusable; but not such absurd exaggerations from an educated man.

1234. Dr. Carrel especially has made terribly cruel experiments on dogs.

Dr. Carrel has always taken every scientific precaution to prevent unnecessary pain, and has always had a reasonable motive for all his experiments. He could not in any way be accused of wanton cruelty.

1235. Such protests were made by the Anti-vivisectionists of America in reference to the Cardinal Newman Prize awarded to Dr. Alexis Carrel, vivisector.

They would have been better advised not to have made such a protest at all. It is one thing to condemn wanton cruelty to animals, as I myself do with the utmost vigor. But it is quite another thing to go to the other extreme and condemn as criminal a perfectly lawful field of medical and surgical investigation without any qualification, and no allowance for the needs of humanity and the due preservation of animals employed from unnecessary suffering.

1236. I thoroughly appreciate your frankness and sincerity, but I cannot agree with your conclusions.

I said that, if human welfare can be benefited by experimental operations on live animals, then such operations are lawful provided due measures are taken by the use of anaesthetics to preserve the animals from unnecessary pain. And undoubtedly by observations of the reactions of living tissue in animals, many surgical operations on human beings have been rendered safe and certain. Also the factors contributing to certain diseases, and successful methods of treating those diseases, have been discovered by the study of the organs of living animals.

1237. It would seem, from your replies, that you are against wanton cruelty.

I am, and most strongly. Cruelty for the sake of being cruel is a sin against God and one's own human nature. And God will certainly punish such sins.

1238. Yet you would condone cruel experiments upon the weaker race if you believed they would benefit the stronger race.

Your reference to the "weaker race" and the "stronger race" is a bit of emotional special pleading which may do credit to your heart, but which confuses your head. It is not a question of relative strength or weakness. After all, a man is weaker than an elephant from the physical point of view. What I do believe, and what every reasonable person believes is that the animal world is meant by God for the service of mankind. And as animals may lawfully be killed for the benefit of man by providing meat for his table, so they can be used for the benefit of his health and well-being by providing information necessary for surgical science. But, in this latter case, wanton cruelty must be avoided; and any unavoidable pain must be reduced to the minimum by all possible precaution and care.

1239. This seems totally contrary to the spirit of the Gospel.

There is nothing in the Gospels, either explicitly or implicitly, against the principles I have stated.

1240. For instance, if Christ, the Mighty Prince of Peace, could sacrifice Himself for erring mankind, surely we in turn should be willing to suffer for our weaker fellow creatures, instead of trying to "have it both ways."

The sufferings and death of Christ for the redemption of the immortal and spiritual souls of men do not provide an analogy imposing similar sacrifice of man for brute creation. I hope that, by your reference to our "weaker fellow creatures," you are not thinking to elevate irrational creatures to the human level, or to lower human dignity to the animal level. The argument you adduce, too, admits of a retort. If the human race is so precious in the sight of God that the very sufferings of Christ on the cross were not too much for its welfare, then that the lesser sufferings of brute creation should also contribute to humanity's welfare is not repugnant. But do you really mean that human beings should be willing to suffer for brute creation? It is lawful to kill a sheep to provide food for men. Would you agree that it is lawful to kill a man to provide food for the animals in the zoo? Or, again, if a wild beast attacked your own mother, and the only way you could save your mother was by shooting or maiming the wild beast, would you quote the Gospels and say, "Christ died that we might live, so mother should be willing to suffer also for lesser fellow creatures?"In the same way, though without the idea of aggression, if a certain operation killed a dozen rats before the surgeon arrived at the degree of skill necessary to save your mother's life, would you grudge your mother her life through an exaggerated pity for the rats?

1241. What is ethically wrong cannot be scientifically right.

That is true. But your assumption that vivisection with proper safeguards against unnecessary and excessive pain is ethically wrong remains unproved.

1242. I would like to know the date of Cardinal Newman's statement that we have no duties towards animals. Our beliefs alter as we grow in years and experience.

Cardinal Newman's statement was made in 1851, almost forty years before his death. But to save you possible efforts to discover his later mind on the subject, which would involve some research, I can assure you that he never changed his views on that point. It is the universal teaching of Catholic philosophy, taught in every Catholic seminary and university throughout the world that animals have no moral rights vested in themselves which impose duties on human beings towards them. Of course we have a duty towards God and to our own human dignity to treat animals kindly, and to spare them unnecessary suffering. Wanton cruelty is, therefore, a sin. But the welfare of man, whom God intended to benefit by the use of lower creatures, justifies as necessary the minimum amount of unavoidable pain involved in such use of animal creation.

1243. God is love, and our Savior said that God noted the fall of a sparrow. St. Francis of Assisi loved animals, I believe.

St. Francis of Assisi loved every creature of God, as all who love God should do. Meantime you are wise in leaving the problem of the ultimate welfare of animals to God. But when you speak of our Savior's teaching that God notes even the fall of a sparrow, do not read into that more than He meant. Jesus is our Savior, not the Savior of animals; and in the passage you quote He was merely bringing out the providence of God. As a matter of fact, the strong contrast He makes is that, if God has such care for creatures who do not matter so very much, far greater is His interest in those who do indeed matter, human beings whose souls are made in the very image and likeness of God.

1244. May it not be that animals do not need saving? It is only man with his passions and dangerous temptations who needs saving.

It is quite certain that animals do not need saving from any eternal damnation. Animals lack moral responsibility, lacking reason and free will. And moral responsibility alone could warrant any such penalty as hell and eternal loss.Man needs saving, not precisely because of his passions and dangerous temptations, but because the whole human race fell from God's grace and friendship by the sin of our first parents, and because men have sinned personally and actually by yielding to their passions and temptations. The Son of God, therefore, died for us men and for our salvation. Whatever God's provision for animals, they do not enter into the redemptive plan save indirectly, insofar as men sin by their misuse of lower creatures and deprive themselves of grace and virtue.

1245. I always include among my prayers one for the animals.

It would be better to pray for those human beings who ill-treat animals, that they may desist from doing so. You would thus be praying for those who are morally responsible for their cruelty, and for the welfare of animals at the same time. The prayer, "Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven," is a prayer not only for men that they do God's Will, but that they may do so in all the relations with other things which life involves, even in their relations towards dumb creatures. Your attitude towards animals seems to me to savor of a sentimental exaggeration. Far more important is the saving of human souls, and there are thousands of them in real danger of eternal suffering, a fate impossible to conceive for animals. If you have any time to spare for prayer, devote it to the needs of those human souls for whom Christ died, rather than to animals, for which Christ did not die, and which belong to a sphere of existence quite other than that proper to mankind.

1246. British countries have societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Have any of the Mediterranean Roman Catholic countries a society of that nature?

Yes. There are Italian, French, and Spanish societies for the protection of animals. But such societies do not create the ideal of kindness to animals. The ideal prompts the formation of such societies. And the ideal has ever prevailed in Catholic doctrine. Lecky, the Rationalist, in his "History of European Morals," says that the influence of the Monks in the Middle Ages "represents one of the most striking efforts made in Christendom to inculcate a feeling of kindness and pity towards the brute creation." Centuries before any R.S.P.C.A. was. thought of, we notice a St. Francis of Assisi picking up a worm on the footpath, and saying, "Brother worm, you would have been trodden upon had you stayed where you were." The Catholic tradition is one of kindness to animals. If men have not been kind to animals, they have violated the Catholic tradition. But surely you will blame evil men, and not the Church for that.



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