The first-ever service of thanksgiving for animals held in a Catholic cathedral, took place on Saturday. Three local town mayors, an MP and people from a wide area, packed Arundel Cathedral in Sussex, for the service organised by the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare. Prayers of praise and penance were led by Cathedral Administrator, Canon Anthony Whale, joined by Baptist and Anglican ministers and teenagers Georgina and Charlotte Ely. Fr Fergus Kerr OP, spoke on God's revelation through the 'wild beasts' in the book of Job, and Deborah Jones introduced a rite of commitment. For more information on the Catholic Study Circle for Animal welfare visit: http://www.catholic-animals.org Rt Rev Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, sent the following message which was read at the service: My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I am sorry that I am unable to be with you today for your special celebration. I shall, of course, be with you in spirit. Moving to Storrington, in the foothills of the South Downs, I have become very aware of the important role all living creatures play in creation. Looking out from my study window, the countryside is teeming with rabbits, birds and other wildlife; the pasture beyond is dotted with sheep; the night time reveals foxes and badgers. the bridleways are crossed by exercising horses and the village is home to many cats, dogs and small animals. Every one of them has a unique place in God's plan of creation and we join together in thanksgiving to Him. Along with the joy that animals bring to the vast majority of us, we also have to acknowledge our sorrow for the misuse and abuse that occurs in our society today and strive to educate and encourage those who do not share the respect and love that God's creatures deserve. We stand alongside those who have witnessed the tragedy of foot and mouth disease this year and pray that their lives may be strengthened and their flocks rebuilt. I send my very best wishes to you all. To be concerned for the humane treatment of animals and work to that end is both admirable and vitally important. I pray that your efforts will be well rewarded. + Kieran
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