The Bible says in Genesis 9:3

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

Nowadays it is consider politically incorrect to defend the killing of animals even when its purpose is to feed us. Some people even think it is "bad" from us to kill an animal to eat it.

Many people complain about the way animals are treated before they are killed, like if they were "things" or some kind of "industrial" machinery. They compare them with human beings sometimes and try to show how bad it is kill another animal, as if we were just animals as well, at the same level as them.

According to Catholicism, what should be our attitude be towards animals? Should we consider them only as "things god put on earth for us to use"? Or should we show some kind of respect to them in the way they are treated / killed ?


2 Answers 2


The Catechism of the Catholic Church has useful information on how we should treat the animals.

[2416] 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.

[2417] God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

[2418] It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

We can also find some verses from the Bible which seem to indicate that we should show kindness to animals.

The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. (Proverbs 12:10, NLT)

Do not slaughter a cow or a sheep and its young on the same day. (Leviticus 22:28, NIV)

The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. (Numbers 22:32, NIV)

Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. (Deuteronomy 25:4, NIV)

Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk. (Deuteronomy 14:21, NIV)

  • Thanks for the answer. But where does the catechism take it from? Some of your quotes refer to the old testament law in terms of what to eat how to eat it. That's a bit different to what I'm asking. Many of those verses could be ignored nowadays.
    – Steve
    Jun 23, 2014 at 13:29
  • @Steve That's exactly why I mentioned "seem to indicate"
    – Mawia
    Jun 23, 2014 at 13:42
  • 1
    @Steve The Catechism is not always directly extracted from the Bible. It is simply what the Catholic church believes, which is of-course based on how they understand the Bible. Some OT verses may seem out of date but many times it teaches us about moral values and there are many things we can learn from it.
    – Mawia
    Jun 23, 2014 at 13:55
  • ok, I believe you answer the questions anyway :) Catholics should follow the catechism.
    – Steve
    Jun 23, 2014 at 13:58

In addition to Mawia's quotes from the Catechism, there is also the pithy summary:

2457 Animals are entrusted to man's stewardship; he must show them kindness. They may be used to serve the just satisfaction of man's needs.

  • Where does the catechism take that idea from?
    – Steve
    Jun 23, 2014 at 13:31
  • The seventh commandment, Respect for the Integrity of Creation. See paragraphs 2416-2418 [as Mawia quoted] at vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P8B.HTM, which gives some references in addition to Mawia's. Jun 23, 2014 at 13:35
  • @AndrewLeach Can I suggest you work the extra tidbits from your comment into this answer and then flag obsolete comments?
    – Caleb
    Jul 19, 2014 at 7:43

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