During a conversation on crocodile farming for production of meat and leather in the Third World, the person I was talking to found that it was cruelty against animals and that humans, in the 21st century, must rethink the animal condition.

Does the Catholic Church say anything about how we should use, consume or treat both domesticated animals like cattle, and wild animals?

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    The Church basically created guidelines which any other compassionate person would create, with the knowledge that consuming animals was a reality because we are omnivorous. One does not really have to refer Catholicism. You can use your own judgment about treating other living creatures with compassion and care, but also satisfying your stomach when necessary. In reality, there are no real rules. A tiger, rat, vulture or shark isn't going to refer religious text before chomping on your flesh and bones. Neither will a goat or bull, before thrusting their horn into your diaphragm.
    – Nav
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 7:16

2 Answers 2


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2416: Animals deserve kindness as they are God's creation and under His care.

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: Humans are charged with the stewardship of animals. Animals may be employed in just purposes.

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 morally wrong to cause animals unneeded suffering.

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

How these are applied to a specific situation can be debated and would likely involve pastoral advice.

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    "One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons" It's sad to see the internet filled with innumerable instances of people wasting their time and money pandering to their pets with accessories and other superfluous paraphernalia of the sort...seemingly forgetting that there are millions of destitute people outside that would've benefited if all that money were used the right way. I love animals, but to raise them to human standards as some people do, would be an insult to humanity. Have an upvote! +1 :) Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 16:11

From the Catholic Encyclopedia article "Cruelty to Animals," a quote from Cardinal Manning, in which he says that man must show mercy to animals, not for their sakes, but for our and God's sakes:

It is perfectly true that obligations and duties are between moral persons, and therefore the lower animals are not susceptible of the moral obligations which we owe to one another; but we owe a seven-fold obligation to the Creator of those animals. Our obligation and moral duty is to Him who made them and if we wish to know the limit and the broad outline of our obligation, I say at once it is His nature and His perfections, and among these perfections one is, most profoundly, that of Eternal Mercy. And therefore, although a poor mule or a poor horse is not, indeed, a moral person, yet the Lord and Maker of the mule is the highest Lawgiver, and His nature is a law unto Himself. And in giving a dominion over His creatures to man, He gave it subject to the condition that it should be used in conformity to His perfections which is His own law, and therefore our law (The Zoophilist, London, 1 April, 1887).

From Moral Theology: A Complete Course Based on St. Thomas Aquinas and the Best Modern Authorities by McHugh, O.P., & Callan, O.P.:

  1. The Killing of Animals (or Vegetation).—(a) In itself, the killing of animals is not sinful; for animals are made for the use of man. Hence, it is lawful to kill, not only harmful animals, such as those that prey on human beings or breed pestilence or destroy property, etc., but also other animals, when their death is necessary for some good purpose, such as the provision of food, clothing or medicine for man.

    (b) In its circumstances, the killing of animals may be sinful, and even gravely sinful, as when one kills the animals of one's neighbor (Exod, xxii. 10, 11), or hunts against the law, or injures society by prodigal destruction of animal or plant life, or kills animals in cruel ways. The skinning of animals alive, in order to secure finer-looking furs to satisfy the vanity of women, is an inhuman barbarism of the worst type that should be reprobated by everybody.

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