Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu: We Must End Injustice To Animals

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South African social rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has dedicated his life to standing up for the rights of others — and he’s now embracing an even wider circle of compassion. He recently made his first major statement on animal protection and it offers a powerful message about how injustice to animals should not go unnoticed, and he calls upon all of us to speak out on behalf of animals:

“I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.”

The University of Illinois recently published The Global Guide to Animal Protection, a collaboration between the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and the University of Illinois Press. The guide features more than 180 articles on human exploitation of animals and avenues for reform. It also includes a foreword by Archbishop Tutu in which he states, “It is a kind of theological folly to suppose that God has made the entire world just for human beings, or to suppose that God is interested in only one of the millions of species that inhabit God’s good earth.”

Desmond Tutu joins a growing chorus of religious leaders calling for compassion for all animals.

In his first homily, Pope Francis, whose namesake is St. Francis of Assisi (a 13th century patron saint of animals, the environment, and the poor), discussed God’s command to protect the vulnerable, including “each of God’s creatures.” And the 14th  and current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, has also criticized our abuse of animals, stating:

Whenever I visit a market and see the chickens crowded together in tiny cages that give them no room to move around and spread their wings and the fish slowly drowning in the air, my heart goes out to them. People have to learn to think about animals in a different way, as sentient beings who love life and fear death. I urge everyone who can to adopt a compassionate vegetarian diet.”

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