Modern Teaching

This is the opening paper at our session on the Theological Perspectives of Animal Suffering at the IOTA conference in Iasi (Jassy) Romania. It was given by our Patron, Met. Kallistos of Diokleia and titled: ‘Compassion for Animals in the Orthodox Church.’






“BULLFIGHT CONTRADICTS TO OUR SPIRITUAL TRADITION”. Letter of Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia to Vera I. Maximova, President of the Russian Society for Animal Protection
24.08.2001 · English, Архив 2001
Letter of Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia to Vera I. Maximova, President of the Russian Society for Animal Protection
Dear Vera Ivanovna,
With attention and concern I read your letter about the plans of carrying out a bullfight in Russia.
I am sure that such a spectacle will make its evil contribution into the obtrusive propaganda of violence, with which our society, through centuries brought up in the ideals of love and charity, has lately faced. Our Church bless human creative work, but it says that human activities are not welcomed by God if “they are directed on satisfaction of sinful needs of spirit and flesh” (Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church).
I shall not repeat that the spectacles, that expose lives of animals and moreover of people to danger on purpose are immoral and dangerous to the society. Even if the life and health risk is reduced to minimum, the kindling of violence cult damage morale of a person especially one of a child or youth. Bullfight is more and more condemned in the countries of its birth. It contradicts to the Russian law as well as to our spiritual tradition.
Therefore Iwould like to join my voice to that of those, who resolutely disagree with penetration of such public spectacles in Russia and especially with their obtrusive advertisement.
With respect and wishes of Godўs help in every good undertaking,
+Alexy, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia


Metropolitan Kirill: “We celebrate the event, not the day”. (Izvestiya, January 5, 2003)
21.03.2003 · English

Your Eminence, do animals, in particular dogs, have a heavenly patron? If so, who is he and how can we pray to him?

– Domestic animals are helpers to the man. Some of them have a direct impact on human well-being. That is why the Orthodox Church traditionally teaches us that we can pray to saints for the good health of animals. From the earliest times, peasants have prayed to Martyrs Flor, Laur and Blasius for the health of cows, horses and other animals. There are no special prayers for dogs, but the Lord “has mercy upon animals” and urges people to do so. A merciful attitude to the nature, a good attitude to animals, especially domestic ones, is integral part of Christian ethics. To destroy environment and at the same time to love the man is impossible. Love is an all-embracing notion. “The merciful heart” is open for all people.



The Ecumenical Patriarch, His All Holiness Bartholomew, calls for us to acquire a ‘Eucharistic spirit’ and ‘ascetic ethos’ in our responsibilities towards animals. He states:

Let us regard ourselves as responsible before God for every living creature and for all the natural creation; let us treat everything with proper love and utmost care.

(HAH ‘Thine Own From Thine Own’, International Journal of Heritage Studies 2006, more readily found in Chryssavgis, J. Cosmic Grace, Humble Prayer: The Ecological Vision of the Green Patriarch Bartholomew, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans (2009:330)


This interview took place between Metropolitan Kallistos and Presbytera Christina (Dr. Nellist) on the 24TH February 2014 in Oxford, England.

Presbytera Christina: Firstly Father, may I ask you to comment upon the research I left with you last year. This was the comments made by the Orthodox priest in response to the outcomes of my research in 2012 which examined the opinion of Cypriot animal protectionists on the Orthodox Church in relation to various aspects of the animal theme.

Metropolitan Kallistos: Yes, well though I might slightly re-phrase what the priest says in one or two areas, in general there is nothing that he says where I felt ‘no this is definitely wrong’. So I can say that he is correct in his statements.  I can comment on one or two of his answers but I think some of those points come up in the further questionnaire you sent to me, so rather than comment on his statements I would perhaps make my own statement in due course.  The points that we need to discuss, not that I disagree with him, are the questions of whether animals have souls and of course, why the orthodox clergy that were written to did not to reply. I think one of the reasons may be that they didn’t quite know what to reply.  When you get an enquiry and there isn’t a simple and obvious answer to it, you tend to put it aside and not do anything about it. I think that may well be what’s happened here.

Firstly a general comment – it seems to me that a concern for animal welfare is a fairly recent thing in a country like Britain. Of course, in the Tradition and in the Old Testament you have Saints who have shown real concern for animals but animal welfare organisations specifically are I think a fairly modern thing.(1) So to me, some of the problems you identify are not so much a theological question, as a cultural one.  This subject has been a concern that people have felt in countries like Britain and America for some considerable time but culturally the traditional orthodox countries haven’t really caught up with this.  It’s not that they are taking a different stance but they are more in the situation perhaps that we in the west were in fifty or one hundred years ago.  Probably in the beginning of the 20th century we would not have found much in the way of animal welfare organisations even in the west, I may be wrong there but I see it more as a cultural and sociological thing rather than theological but that’s a matter for discussion.

Presbytera Christina: It wasn’t my writing to the Church; this was the general theme that came out in the Cyprus research.  Many people had written to priests and bishops and had not received any response.

Met. Kallistos: I think we have to admit that this isn’t a priority in the minds of most bishops and priests and they might say we are concerned with humans and to that my answer is ‘it is not a matter of either /or, you should be concerned with humans and animals. The one doesn’t exclude the other. Now of course my experience is limited as I have always had an urban upbringing so I don’t know in too much detail what goes on in farming but I have seen some things which have left me very disturbed.

Presbytera Christina: Well I do not eat meat not because I do not like the taste of it but because I object to the system which is very cruel and the only thing I can do is choose not to be part of that cruelty and I just hope that over time, the organisations that do focus on farming methods like Compassion in World Farming (2) for example, can change it.  Again, methods such as factory farming are rather new and I feel that if more people knew what happened they may well give up eating meat. Of course, it is easy to find out what goes on, there is plenty of visual and written material on the web and in the form of reports and research. So perhaps it is more that people don’t want to know, rather than not being able to access the information.

Met. Kallistos: Well exactly. People who live in towns like me eat the products but don’t know too much about the background and I think if I knew more about the background I might feel I might have to become a vegetarian but I am willing to say a bit about that later.

Presbytera Christina: Do you believe animal suffering is relevant to God?

Met. Kallistos: Yes.

Presbytera Christina: In your opinion, is the suffering of animals, something the Orthodox Church should be concerned with? 

Met. Kallistos: Yes.

Presbytera Christina: There appears to be a need for clarification of the Orthodox Church’s position on cruelty to animals. Would you be able to give us a clear statement of the Church’s position?

Met. Kallistos: The Orthodox Church to the best of my knowledge has never attempted to make dogmatic statements about this – statements expressed in the form of formal and official church teaching. The question of animals for example was never a matter discussed at the seven Ecumenical Councils. Yet, a reverence for animals, sensitivity to their position, their suffering, this certainly is part of our Orthodox Church faith. We start from the principle laid down in the first chapter of Genesis – that the world is God’s creation, God saw everything that He had made and behold  it was very good – Genesis 1:31. The world is God’s creation and it is a good and beautiful world. So the question of animals and how we treat them, links up with our view that animals are part of God’s creation and just as we should treat the whole of creation with reverence and respect, so we should more particularly, treat the animals with reverence and respect. Now it is said in the first chapter of Genesis that humans have a unique position in God’s creation because we are created in the image and likeness of God and that is not said of animals, though I would like to pursue that later on in our discussion but being created in God’s image and likeness gives us a responsibility towards the Creation as a whole and towards animals in particular. It is said that we are to have dominion as humans over the created order but dominion does not mean domination or ruthless tyranny. This dominion that humans are given is part of being in God’s image, so what this means is that just as God cares for His Creation and loves it, so we, after the image of God, are to care and love the Creation.  This to me is the basic position of the Orthodox Church in regard to animals.

Presbytera Christina: The Ecumenical Patriarch’s proclamation at Patmos[3] defined the misuse of animals as a sin. In my research it appears that the Church in Cyprus is reluctant to speak on animal abuse of any kind but particularly in the form of poisoning. Would you give us your opinion on the poisoning of animals in general and in particular as a form of population control or for unwanted animals?

Met. Kallistos:  I was present on Patmos at the time the Ecumenical Patriarch made his proclamation and of course, I fully agree with the affirmation that animals have their own proper dignity, that this is to be respected and therefore the misuse of animals along with the misuse of any part of the creation is a sin.  William Blake, that great eighteenth century prophet said ‘Everything that lives is Holy’, so the animals are Holy and therefore, the way we treat animals is directly relevant to our living of the Christian life.

I would condemn the poisoning of animals.  There will be situations where domestic animals do need to be put down because they are diseased or because they are breeding too many and there is not enough land to support them but poisoning would seem to me a cruel way of dealing with this problem; There are ways in which animals can be put to sleep that do not involve a long and painful death.

I think that we do have a responsibility some times to limit the numbers of domestic animals but not by poisoning.  Equally, I suppose we do need to keep down wild animals which may be praying on our flocks or herds – the wolves on Mount Athos for example were quite a nuisance; Unfortunately there are now no more wolves there, they have all been disposed of and I regret that but again, poisoning seems to me, an evil way to dispose of animals because it will usually involve a lingering and painful death. There are more humane ways of dealing with the problems.

Presbytera Christina: The neutering of animals is the practice of Animal Welfare Organisations throughout the world.  It is used to reduce the number of unwanted animals and also for health reasons in later life.  It has been suggested that the Orthodox Church forbids this procedure. Do you believe this reflects the Church’s position and if not, could you clarify its position?

Met. Kallistos: To my knowledge, the Orthodox Church, has never forbidden the neutering of animals and I consider that used in a responsible way, this is a good method of preventing unwanted animals and that there can be health reasons as well to advocate this practice, so I am not against the neutering of animals. Of course we do not approve of the neutering of human beings but for animals I do not think the Orthodox Church has ever been forbidden this practice.

Presbytera Christina: How is it that the Orthodox Church which has a wealth of texts relating to respect for God’s Creation, finds itself in 2011 and 2012 research, as being perceived of being indifferent to the suffering of a major part of God’s Creation? Is it ignorance in the clergy of Patristic teachings on the subject or is it more likely to be a lack of transference or application of their knowledge, to a priest’s or parishioner’s behaviour?  How are these problems to be addressed?

Met. Kallistos: Now that is very true, first of all, the Old Testament is full of regulations that were imposed and adopted by the Jewish people relating to the humane treatment of animals. I call to mind a very good book on this subject not by an Orthodox but by a Roman Catholic, Fr. Robert Murray and his book the ‘Cosmic Covenant’ where he shows that particularly in the covenant of Noah, the covenant made between God and humans, also involves the animal world. That I believe is the true Christian teaching and I accept that as an Orthodox.

Again if we look at the lives of the Saints, there are numerous examples of close friendships between Saints and particular animals.  I think of the collection of texts well known many years ago, made by Helen Waddell, called ‘Beasts and Saints’ and the examples she gives are both Eastern and Western, this is not only Orthodox but part of our common heritage. So from the tradition of the Orthodox Church, we have plenty of examples of close mutual understanding between humans and animals.  The trouble is whilst we have all this in theory we do not sufficiently apply it in practice.

Presbytera Christina: How is this to be addressed?

Met. Kallistos: There is a need for more education and we are up against the basic problem that all too many people, clergy and laity, think as Christians that this doesn’t matter – that the treatment of animals is not a moral issue. But as soon as you say that animals are part of God’s Creation and we humans have a God given responsibility towards the Creation, then at once, one sees that it is both a moral and spiritual question. That is why the Ecumenical Patriarch was so right to insist that the misuse of the Creation is a sin- but all too many people don’t see it that way.

There is a further problem in that people involved in agriculture might feel that the intervention by Christian clergy and others, suggesting humane ways of treating animals would diminish their profits- it would mean that they could not make as much money and that is an argument against organic farming in general.  This argument I don’t accept.  First of all, even if it did diminish your profits, perhaps you should not make evil profit from the Creation and I think also, that it is possible to practice organic farming and humane treatment of animals, in a manner that is perfectly viable economically; but I do see there could be objections here.

By way of illustrating this point, I remember visiting many years ago, a Roman Catholic monastery, though I will not say where, except that it was in the United States and they took me with great pride, to see a new appliance that they had installed for battery hens.  There were thousands of hens in this vast shed, all in tiny cages and subjected to electric light all through the night so that they would lay a larger amount of eggs.  Now there it seemed to me, that the desire of a larger profit was leading to an immoral use of living creatures.  Animals have their dignity their natural ways of behaving – hens wonder about picking up the food they find, picking it up in different places and they should be allowed to do this.  I was deeply shocked that a monastery, which should be sensitive to the dignity of Creation, should be showing such pleasure in this new installation. Well, their motive was to make profit; however, even if you can’t make quite such big profits, surely humane farming could be economically viable.

Presbytera Christina: Can you remember how many birds were in each cage?  Normally in factory farming there would be several hens in one tiny cage.

Met. Kallistos: That I don’t remember clearly but I noticed how in many cases, the birds had virtually no feathers.  I was appalled to see the naked skin of these poor birds and I was deeply shocked that the monks did not seem to see that there was something un-Christian, contrary to our faith in the beauty of God’s world, to do such a thing as that. So to summarise, I think it is a lack of teaching and a lack of spiritual imagination.

Presbytera Christina: On that point I can comment that I have very poor eye-sight and yet I am able to see the suffering of other creatures and what I do not understand is that others do not see it, even when it is pointed out to them.  This is why I was so upset at the suggestion that some priests were involved in poisoning animals – as Christians how could they do that?

Met. Kallistos:  Well, quite so.

Presbytera Christina: Several of my questions relate to the suggestions that because an animal does not have a soul, it doesn’t feel pain or that they are irrelevant or that we should not concern ourselves with them.  Would you like to take each point in turn or would you like to cover them in a more general statement?

Met. Kallistos: I shall cover these points as I make my statements.   The idea that animals do not suffer pain – I find that quite extraordinary.  The evidence is so clear. Indeed we cannot see inside the animal’s minds but all the symptoms that humans display when pain is inflicted on them are displayed also by animals. So we have every reason to believe that animals experience pain as we do and to suggest therefore, that to inflict pain on animals is something morally neutral, I find abhorrent – it is a sin.

Presbytera Christina: How do we deal with this sin in the Church?

Met. Kallistos: Quiet, persistent teaching; but the difficulty is that all too many of the clergy in country districts, in Mediterranean countries particularly, don’t see that. Here as Orthodox Christians we have a marvellous theology for the Creation but the priests may be afraid to preach about this because such a message would perhaps be unwelcome to the farmers who are their parishioners. They may be afraid to incur in this way hostility but, and there is an important point to make here, the Church has always been called to take an unpopular line.

On the subject of souls, I will refer to a book in which I have previously written on the subject of souls and I did have a specific section on the souls of animals.  This is entitled From Soul to Self edited by James Crabbe, published by Routledge in 1999. On this question of course it is true, that in much of Christianity eastern and western, there has been a tendency to make a very sharp distinction between human and animals.  It is said that animals do not possess reason, more specifically, that they do not have immortal souls. The result of this approach has been that we are in danger of treating animals as objects and not subjects.

Now part of the question here, do animals have souls, depends on what you mean by the word soul. The Greek word psyche has a broader understanding perhaps than our modern understanding of the word soul. Aristotle said there are three types of soul – the vegetable soul, the animal soul and the rational soul i.e. the human soul. Now to speak of vegetable’s having souls would strike some people as facetious and they will make jokes about talking to your tomatoes. Well in fact there may well be subtle connections between humans and plants. After all, we do describe some people as having green fingers – these people seem to have a natural empathy with growing things and seem to be skilful in making them grow; however, the soul used in this way by Aristotle means ‘life force’. So from that point of view animals certainly do have a soul because they undoubtedly have a ‘life force’.  But do they have the same soul as humans?

Now many of the characteristics we think of as distinctively human are also found in the animals. In fact any attempt to make a very sharp delineation in light of modern research into animal behaviour and intelligence, doesn’t entirely work.

Do animals have the power of speech, well not exactly as we humans do but animals do make cries and sounds which communicate messages to the other animals, so they do communicate. There has been much research in this area, I can think specifically of dolphins and they have quite subtle ways of communicating to each other. Indeed, there is so much research now that we cannot say animals are inarticulate for they have all kinds of ways of communicating and this has implications for our view on thought.

To say animals don’t have reason is also questionable.  Again there is much research in this field.  For example if you put a banana behind a door with a rather complex handle to open the door, if the monkey is interested in it, he will test  and experiment with the handle and surely he is doing something very similar to what we do when we try to think and solve a problem. So it seems to me that you cannot make a sharp distinction here either.

Again, animals show deep attachment to one another.  Many animals are in fact monogamous and form unions throughout the whole of their life and we could say that they are better at this than some humans.

When an animal loses its partner it will show signs of bereavement and grief as humans do.  Here we can use as an example the research into elephant family groups. So it is much harder to make a sharp distinction between animals and humans than it once was.  Just to say animals have no souls is inadequate, in fact so many of the characteristics that are human are now found to some extent among the animals.

If we look at the Greek Euchologian, the Greek book of prayers, used officially in the contemporary Greek Orthodox Church we have prayers for animals. Here is one of them:

Lord Jesus Christ, moved by your own tender mercy, pity the suffering animals….            For if a righteous man shows pity to the souls of his animals (Pr 12:10), how should you oh God not take pity on them, for you created them and you provide for them? In your compassion you did not forget the animals in the ark….Through the good health and the plentiful numbers of oxen and other four -footed creatures, the earth is cultivated and its fruits increase; And your servants who call upon your name enjoy full abundance of the products of their farming.[3]

Well that prayer definitely shows compassion for animals and for their suffering and there are prayers specifically for sick animals.

Well you may say if you are a farmer it is very important that your animals shouldn’t die.  The death of your horse would have been a severe blow to peasant farmers in earlier ages. So, if we pray for animals and we say they have souls, we cannot say simply that they have no human characteristics at all – the line of demarcation is not so clear.

Now the normal view is that the animal soul is formed from the earth and therefore it is dissolved at death and doesn’t survive, yet the accounts in the Bible of the age to come make it quite clear that there will be animals there. The ox and the ass – the lion and the lamb will go together. The usual view is to say that they won’t be the same animals, but how do we know?

Do we have any right to say that animals do not possess immortality?  I think this is a subject where we can simply say, we do not have a clear revelation on this point in Scripture. I cannot recall anywhere where it says animals cannot survive into a future life, so why shouldn’t we leave that to God’s mercy and say that we don’t understand about this?

So perhaps the animals do survive. So in all of this, simply to say that animals have no souls is – inadequate. It is a matter of opinion as opposed to any dogmatic statement from the Orthodox Church. It is a subject in which we have not been given clear revelation or guidance in revelation.

Now it is true, that in the Orthodox Church, meat eating is allowed. It is considered that this only happened after the fall. In an unfallen world in paradise humans did not kill the animals. The eating of meat is seen to some extent as a falling away from original perfection. But we have never then been vegetarian as a matter of principle but it is interesting that monks and nuns usually abstain from meat. They do eat fish so it isn’t a vegetarian issue in itself.

But coming back to the question from which we started, to me it is unsatisfactory to say animals have no souls and we should avoid making such an assertion.

Presbytera Christina: Can I press for a specific answer to a point from my research. For example in my research it is suggested that because an animal doesn’t have a soul it doesn’t matter if they are treated cruelly or again, that because animals do not have a soul they cannot feel pain or suffer.  Should it matter if an animal has a soul or not – should that be our rationale to the way we treat it?

Met. Kallistos: I reject those kinds of statements. I think the whole discussion on whether animals have souls or not is in the end probably a ‘red-herring’.

The point is that animals are living creatures, all life is from God, and therefore we should treat the animals with respect and reverence.  They have their own characteristic dignity and we should respect that.

Now we can use animals for our service, use horses for ploughing though we do not do that so much now, but we should nonetheless with our domestic animals, give them enough to eat, we should not over-work them, we should keep them warm and clean. So in other words, in treating animals we should let them be themselves.

They should be as far as possible healthy without pain or discomfort and if we do kill animals for our food we should kill them in a humane way.  I know in some religious traditions you ask forgiveness from the animal before you kill it well, there is no such teaching in the Orthodox Church that you have to do this but surely it expresses something that we should respect and reverence the animals for what they are – as God has made them – for they are God’s Creation and we should not show contempt for God’s Creation.  They have feelings and we should not hurt those feelings.

Presbytera Christina: If I can stay with this subject for a moment, it seems that we have what I call a disconnect between the theory and the practice. If there is a perceived connection between what is thought to be Church teaching that animals do not have souls; that they are irrelevant and therefore it doesn’t matter if they are cruelly treated – how can we disseminate the true opinion of the Church as you have expressed it today in this interview? How do we make people aware of these teachings/ proclamations of the Orthodox Church’s view?

Met. Kallistos: We have to patient but persistent.  It often takes a long time for a message to percolate through to people in general but people’s attitudes can be changed and we have to work on that.

Clearly there are vested interests that will want to go on treating animals in the inhumane way that happens now, through battery hens or whatever, but we should quietly but persistently, combat those views. Opinions can be changed. There is in any rate, in our western society in countries like Britain and America, a greater sensitivity to the harm we are doing to the Creation and the need to change our ways of attitude.

We have a very long way to go and we are faced by certain very strong financial interests but if we hold fast to our message and go on preaching it, in season and out of season, about the value of the animal creation, this may result in a change gradually.

To quote a quite different situation, I can recall in my youth and I am thinking back to the 1950s, being told by a doctor friend of my family that there was a definite connection between smoking and lung cancer; But, she said, the tobacco companies are so powerful and they have such financial resources behind them, they will fight to suppress the evidence. Yes this did happen but nonetheless, in the last few decades there has been a fundamental change of attitude towards smoking and people’s opinions have been changed.  The anti-smoking lobby did not have big resources behind it and yet it has won.  There are increasing restrictions on where one can smoke and the cigarette packets have on them the message that smoking kills.  If you can change our attitude over smoking, can we not change our attitude over animals?

Presbytera Christina: Would you give us your opinion on why there is an apparent lack of debate from Orthodox academics, on the theme of animal suffering and related issues? 

Met. Kallistos: There ought to be, for it should be seen as a direct consequence that respect for the Creation, for the environment, carries with it more particularly respect for the animals; so we have a basis to work on there because a lot has been written by Orthodox.

It may not have permeated through to all the faithful but plenty has been said about the responsibility of humans for the environment, about the ecological crisis about the tragedy of what we are doing to the material creation.  The present Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has said many things and several volumes have been issued of his addresses and sermons on this matter. So we have a good basis there to work from.

This theology of creation that the Orthodox Church is deeply committed to – the deepness and beauty of Creation – has as a direct consequence, reverence for the animals.  Why we haven’t so far made the connection, I am not really sure but it is high time we did so.

Presbytera Christina: Would you agree that if the Church does have compassionate views towards animals within the created order, then there appears to be a need for the Church to ensure that its teachings are both taught and practiced at grass roots, priestly level?  How could this be achieved, particularly in relation to Cyprus, where many people become priests after they retire without any formal theological education? Should all clergy attend courses on the environment/animal welfare and / or should we include such training in our seminary courses?

Met. Kallistos: There is need for education here at every level and we should start not with the people in theological seminaries but we should start much earlier with the children.  That the normal catechism teaching given in our Church Sunday School classes should include teaching about the Creation and about compassionate and Christian treatment of animals.  We should start with people when they are young.

The Orthodox Church should include such topics in the manuals that it puts out – the Church of Greece puts out plenty of books for teaching children and I know the Greek Archdiocese in North America has a programme with a lot of literature.  I think we should struggle to see that this literature includes as one of its themes, part of the essential Christian teaching of respect for the animal creation.

Then certainly later on when priests are given training, the courses the clergy are given should include teaching on the environment. The Ecumenical Patriarch has been saying this about the environment in general but this should also include teaching on the animals and how they should be treated.

In general then, we should be working on every level to educate people.  We should bring this before them as a point that they ought to think about.  We should encourage those who have this area of responsibility to educate the children and educate the priests so that they in turn can educate their people.

Presbytera Christina: Is anyone doing this – writing this material?

Met. Kallistos: I don’t know of anyone doing this at the moment. But we must encourage them.  What you are doing is important but the trouble is most people do not give priority to this issue and they don’t think it matters – but it does matter very deeply.

Presbytera Christina: Let me ask a question on this theme but from a different perspective. Isn’t the treatment of animals important not simply for the animals and to reduce their suffering but also for our sake also? What does it say about the heart of someone who is cruel to other creatures or indifferent to suffering of any kind?

Met. Kallistos: I think so.  If we misuse the animals, this will have a negative effect on our own character.  It will coarsen us and it will reduce our spiritual sensitivity. Misuse of the animals means that there is some ‘blind spot’ in our own understanding of God and our standing of our place in the world. So, yes we are harming the animals and this is very serious but we are harming ourselves as well.

Presbytera Christina: You are familiar with St Isaac the Syrian’s famous comment on ‘The Compassionate Heart.’  What is your interpretation of this passage, with specific relevance for Orthodox Christianity’s engagement and treatment of animals?

Met. Kallistos: Now I have here ‘What is a Merciful Heart’.

Presbytera Christina: Now that is interesting because I wrote to Dr Sebastian Broke about this title for I have seen both Compassionate and Charitable for the same text and these two meanings are quite different. As a specialist in Syriac I asked him for his opinion.  He was quite sure the correct translation was Compassionate.  I also wrote regarding the use of the phrase ‘irrational animals’ in this text and he said that the Syriac did say ‘irrationals’ and it was he who chose to put animals.  My response was to say that depending upon when this was composed and interpreted ‘irrationals’ may well have included women and slaves. What it does do is highlight the importance of having expert translators.

Met. Kallistos: Well yes.  Merciful Heart is not so different to Compassionate and yes, there have been Christians who have said that women are not made in God’s image but in my view that is a definite error. Women are in the image of God as much as man and women are baptised just as men are.

The translation I have here follow the standard translation and I quote:-

What is a merciful heart? ….. It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for the demons and for all that exists…. As a result of His deep mercy or compassion the heart shrinks and cannot bear to look upon any injury of the slightest suffering of anything in creation. That is why he constantly offers up prayers full of tears even for the irrational animals….. He even prays for the reptiles as a result of great compassion that is poured out beyond measure in his heart after the likeness of God.[4]

Well here we are challenged, for it is perhaps not so difficult to feel affection for squirrels but most of us perhaps do not like snakes.

Here is another example by a twentieth-century saint, the Russian monk St Silouan the Athonite:-

One day I saw a dead snake on my path that had been chopped into pieces.”

So obviously somebody had deliberately cut it up.

“Each piece writhed convulsively and I was filled with pity for every living creature, every suffering thing in Creation and I wept bitterly before God.” [5]

So here in Orthodox teaching across the centuries, is certainly a sense that the animals suffer and that we should mind about that; And not just the domestic animals but also the wild animals – not just the furry attractive creatures but also the animals we don’t like so much. 

Presbytera Christina: It is a subject fraught with difficulties for if you love the fox, what about the fleas or ticks on the fox?

Met. Kallistos: Yes what do we do with the wasps?  I find that if you sit still the wasps will usually go away – don’t pursue it, just let it be and it will go in due course. But yes, this is all part of our rich Christian inheritance – Biblical and in the Tradition both Eastern and Western and the thing is we are all too ignorant of this but we must go on emphasising these teachings to other people and to ourselves.

Presbytera Christina: Part of your answer to an earlier question touched upon the Church’s engagement – Christianity’s engagement and treatment of animals and my research in Cyprus shows there to be a complete lack of communication between the Church and the Animal welfarists.  They are ignorant of each other’s views and yet when you analyse what is said – and you have earlier ratified what the priest said to me – they are when analysed, saying the same thing. Yet I have evidence though I have not brought it out into the public discussions, of hostility between the two groups and definite fear of the Church. Fear by some that the Church will try to shut them down, stop them functioning, if they say anything negative about the Church.

Now I know through personal experience that some animal welfare workers can be extremely difficult to work with.  I have myself been insulted during my research in Cyprus as I was perceived by some of being from the Church. They can be very difficult to work with because of their passion and because of the daily reality of dealing with animal cruelty, poisoning and abandonment and I understand that completely, but any group would have to be carefully chosen to include those willing to work together and the same would be true for the Church.

I am seeing Bishop Isaias of Tamassos and Orinis in Cyprus on the third of March to talk about my research findings and I have no idea what he will say but one of the questions I asked the priest was whether the Orthodox Church might consider having a liaison officer to work with the animal welfarists.  In other faiths they have a Christian animal welfare group – the Catholics have one, the Anglicans have one, I am not sure if the Baptists would have one but certainly there are examples.

Is there any way that the Church can have an animal welfare group?  Do we have one voice for Orthodoxy here or would there be a need to set up ‘nationalist’ groups – a Cypriot group, a Serbian group etc. Would the Ecumenical Patriarch be open to the suggestion that there could be such a group – an Orthodox Christian Welfare group? How do you view that?  Where is the way forward here?

Met. Kallistos: Well there are several points here so let me try to answer them. Yes I would certainly say that one step forward would be to try and set up a group in the Orthodox Church similar to the Anglican and Roman Catholic groups you mention who are concerned with animal welfare. Possibly Cyprus would not be the best place to start but I may be proven wrong.  I feel that you are more likely to get a response to this from Orthodox in the western world, who have been more exposed to these sorts of ideas.

I think something could be done to try to interest Patriarch Bartholemew on this since he has written and said so much.  He is known as the ‘Green Patriarch’ because of his statements and actions concerning the misuse of the environment. He is concerned about the pollution of the water and the air but the whole problem of course is a single one and misuse of the animals goes hand in hand with misuse of the rest of the environment – it is all a single issue. So if there is going to be leadership it might come from him.

A possibility here is to contact Archdeacon John Chryssavgis who works with Patriarch Bartholemew on environmental matters. He has edited the different collections of Patriarchal essays. He was my pupil at one stage and I think he has been involved in the Patriarch’s statements. He would be worth contacting I feel and you have my blessing to do so.

Another possibility is this.  The Patriarch every year organises an ‘ecological cruise’. The delegates are Orthodox and non-Orthodox, from the worlds of economy, theologians and environmental scientists; because the question of the environment is not so much in having to persuade theologians as persuading the politicians and the large international businesses and they are much more difficult to reach.  He tries in these conferences on the high seas to bring people of influence together and to impress on each other, the urgency of these questions.  Perhaps they could devote one of these floating symposiums specifically to the question of animals. It has been in the past that as they are travelling in a boat they have concentrated on the seas but why not the animals, though it is a little difficult perhaps to relate to the fishes.

Presbytera Christina: Not if you dive Father, then it is easy to relate to marine life.  The myriad of species, forms and colour is a sensory delight and I can tell of the inquisitiveness of cuttle-fish and octopi from my swimming so regularly in the various countries I have lived.  I have wonderful video footage of the inquisitiveness of one particular octopus who lived in one specific coral just off my home in the Seychelles and cuttle-fish and squid are equally fascinating.  They will line up and watch you, signalling to each other the whole time and if you swim slowly towards them they will retreat to the same extent that you come forward.  If you retreat they will come forward and you can repeat this process several times – I usually then swim away as I do not wish them to become used to being around humans who are generally a danger to them.  I have frequently turned around from examining or observing the behaviour of some creature only to find myself the object of inspection by another creature, not I must add a shark but certainly barracuda, squid and many varieties of fish.

To come back to Fr. Chryssavgis, I was asked by the organiser of the forthcoming international conference on religion and animals that I am to present at later this year, if he would be worth inviting.  My reply was certainly do so because he has written extremely well in general  terms on creation as they all do, but nothing yet specifically on animals.

Met. Kallistos: Yes, it is curious how they have not carried that a step further because it is not a very big step.

Presbytera Christina: Well, sadly he could not come because his schedule is already full but he did respond by saying that he had wanted to write something for a long time and would like to be invited on another occasion.

Met. Kallistos: Well I am glad he is in touch with Professor Linzey because he I think [Fr. Chryssavgis] is a key person in that he is advising the Patriarch on such matters. So if you could contact him, you may be able to encourage him to discuss the issue of animals, their treatment and their place in the created order with the Patriarch that would be an excellent way forward. I am not aware of any Orthodox group that is concerned with this at the moment but like all things we have to start somewhere and this would seem to me a useful place to start.

I would certainly encourage you and bless you and when I next see John, I don’t know when that will be but then I will take this matter up with him, as a new step that the Patriarch might take.  The Patriarch has said plenty about the non-animate environment but what about the animate environment as well.

Presbytera Christina: Lastly Father, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you at length on this matter and to thank you for discussing what some will see as sensitive, even political issues, though I do not see that they have to be. From my research I can prove that the treatment of animals has been the subject of discussion in the Orthodox Church, though not a priority, from the earliest times.  My research however identifies a distinct gap between the teachings and the practice.  I do feel that the Orthodox Church has the wisdom and I would like to think the courage to lead the other religious groups as the Ecumenical Patriarch has done with the issue of the environment, if only they would focus their attention on the particular creature within, rather than the general overview of the environment. Certainly, your contribution today has started the conversation and I hope a wider and informed debate in Orthodoxy will follow.


  1. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals was established in 1824 by a few individuals including Arthur Broome, an Anglican priest; Richard Martin, a member of parliament, who in 1822 piloted the first anti-cruelty bill and William Wilberforce, a member of the aristocracy & M.P, who spent over 50 years trying to abolish slavery.
  3. Prayer of St Modestos in Mikron Euchologion i Hagiasmatarion Apostoliki Diakonia: Athens, (1984:297).  The prayer is attributed to Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain.
  4. Homily 74, Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh  Wensinck, A. J. (trans) Amsterdam, (1923:386); also Lossky, V.  The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church Crestwood: NY, SVSP, (1976:111)
  5. Sakharov, Archimandrite Sophrony  Saint Silouan the Athonite  Tolleshunt Knights, (1991:367,469)////////////////////


Posted on March 31st, 2019 by admin — Leave a reply


This is a revised version of my article in the latest edition of the International Journal of Orthodox Theology and part of my book Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Animal Suffering: Ancient Voices in Modern Theology. It formed the basis of my recent presentation at the IOTA conference in Romania in January 2019.


The Living Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church

Some might argue that the topics covered in this article are outside the sphere of Eastern Orthodox theological or ethical discourse. This is not the case. We have both early and contemporary teachings, which give us the authority to engage with these important subjects. For example, this first example is Christ teaching us that all of us should act to prevent the suffering of both humans and animals.

“Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well, will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” (Lk 14:5) 1

This is followed by early church fathers who were very clear that all of creation was to be embraced and will be redeemed through Christ:

“Now, among the ‘all things’ our world must be embraced. It too, therefore, was made by His Word, as Scripture tells us in the book of Genesis.” (St. Irenaeus) 2

“And do not wonder that the whole world was ransomed; for it was no mere man, but the only-begotten Son of God, who died on its behalf.” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem) 3

“God has foreseen all, He has neglected nothing. His eye, which never sleeps, watches over all. He is present everywhere and gives to each being the means of preservation. If God has not left the sea urchin outside His providence, is He without care for you?” (St. Basil) 4

An example of contemporary authority to engage with such subjects is found in H. A. H. Bartholomew’s address to Eastern Orthodox Scholars:

“Orthodoxy is a faith at once rooted in the past, yet at the same time, a Church looking toward the future. It is characterized by a profound sense of continuity with the times and teachings of the Apostolic Church and the Church of the Fathers; but it is also a Church that draws from its rich heritage in order to respond to modern challenges and dilemmas. It is precisely this dual nature that permits Orthodoxy to speak boldly about critical contemporary issues-precisely because it is a “living tradition”.” 5

This article enacts this “living tradition” by examining the challenging contemporary issues of animal suffering in relation to climate change, dietary choices and animal-based food production. The issue of dietary choice is one issue among many that are important for billions of humans across the globe, not only because of the animal suffering involved, but also because of the link between our choice of an animal based diet and the significant impact it has upon our environment and human health. An exhaustive investigation of the interconnection of these subjects is not possible here, as it would require its own monograph. I have tried instead to balance the need for facts and realism rather than platitudes, whilst limiting the material used and being mindful of the need to be compassionate to the reader. This discussion specifically examines the practical implications and animal suffering involved in our choice of food, together with the soteriological implications.

An Inconvenient Truth – Sacrifice and Spiritual Revolution

The continuing challenge before us all is how we are to apply both early and contemporary Orthodox teachings on compassionate care for “all things” in the creation and extending our understanding of community, justice, mercy and rights, to the animals within the intensive farming system. Stylios (1989) suggests that we are to lead a “life of justice” which is interpreted by Harakas as “the avoidance of immoral profiteering, injustice and exploitation”. This aligns with Met. Kallistos’s teaching on “evil profits” and the “immoral use of animals” in the intensive farming industry. 7 Harakas also states that justice is the “right ordering” of human nature 8 where the inherent value of creation demands a responsible approach, “its proper treatment.” 9 In this sense, Harakas shares similar views to Bonhoeffer (1971)10 who states that duties flow from rights, which he accorded to the natural world. H. A. H.  Bartholomew and Met. John Zizioulas express a similar view when they counsel us to extend our understanding of community, to be a voice to the rest of creation whose rights are violated 11 and to extend our love to the non-human world. 12 H. A. H. Bartholomew advocates extending justice “beyond one’s fellow human beings to the entire creation”:

“One of the more fundamental problems that constitute the basis of the ecological crisis is the lack of justice prevailing in our world…The liturgical and patristic tradition…considers as just, that person who is compassionate and gives freely, using love as his or her sole criterion. Justice extends even beyond one’s fellow human beings to the entire creation. The burning of forests, the criminal exploitation of natural resources…all of these constitute expressions of transgressing the virtue of justice.” 13 

Eastern Orthodox theologians have repeatedly called for humanity to change its ethos from one based upon a theory of continual consumption, to one with a Eucharistic and aesthetic ethos of love, virtue, sacrifice, abstinence and purification of sin. In essence, they remind us of patristic teachings to restrict and control our desires. H. A. H. Bartholomew confirms Orthodox teaching on the damaging and continuing mind-set of domination rather than loving dominion:

“Unfortunately, humanity has lost the liturgical relationship between the Creator God and the creation; instead of priests and stewards, human beings have been reduced to tyrants and abusers of nature.” 14

“All too often they are innocent sufferers, and we should view this undeserved suffering with compunction and sympathy.” 15

“As living beings, sensitive and easily hurt, they are to be viewed as a ‘Thou’, not an ‘It’, to use Martin Buber’s terminology: not as objects to be exploited and manipulated but as subjects, capable of joy and sorrow, of happiness and affliction.” 16

H. E. H. Bartholomew’s use of the word ‘nature’ indicates that his teaching incorporates animals and corroborates the argument that the abuse and exploitation of animals has negative consequences not only for the abused animals in the form of physical pain, suffering and psychological fear but also negative soteriological implications for humankind. I submit that in addition to those who perpetrate acts of cruelty and exploitation, those who know of such acts but are indifferent to them and those who know but shy away from trying in some way to alleviate the abuse, are in a sense giving tacit approval to that process and are accessories after the fact. He states that for Orthodox Christians this ascetic ethos “is not negation, but a reasonable and tempered use of the world.” He also draws our attention to the inconvenient truth of the missing dimension and need for sacrifice:

“This need for an ascetic spirit can be summed up in a single key word: sacrifice. This is the missing dimension of our environmental ethos and ecological action.” 17

He clarifies this point with teachings on self-limitation in consumption and interprets self-restraint in terms of love, humility, self-control, simplicity and social justice, all of which are essential teachings for our choice of diet and the products we choose to purchase. Crucially, he acknowledges the fundamental problem of inaction and the difficulties in effecting change:

“We are all painfully aware of the fundamental obstacle that confronts us in our work for the environment. It is precisely this: how to move from the theory to action, from word to deeds.” 18

“For this spiritual revolution to occur, we must experience radical metanoia, a conversion of attitudes, habits and practices, for ways that we have misused or abused God’s Word, God’s gifts, and God’s creation.” 19

These are profound teachings and reminiscent of the warnings from the prophets of old. This spiritual revolution is also required for a conversion in the way we view animals and thus the way we treat them. Many of his teachings urge us to reflect the asceticism of the early Fathers and the urgent need for changes in human behaviour. In our greed and lust for ever increasing profit, we “violently and cunningly subordinate and exploit creation.” This not only destroys creation but also “undermines the foundations and conditions necessary for the survival of future generations.” This aligns with Met. Kallistos’ comment on “evil profit” in chapter six of my book and St. Irenaeus’s teaching that we must not use our freedom as a “cloak of maliciousness”. It also hints at the environmental crisis, a modern example of the cosmic disharmony the Fathers frequently highlighted, where various forms of injustice pollute the land; where natural disasters and starvation are the result of the evil that people have done and that this evil pollutes the earth and angers God. Arguably little appears to have changed, for we are beginning to experience the devastating results of our continued abuse and misuse of creation in general and animals in particular. Our inability to move from theory to practice indicates that our weaknesses make it difficult for us to attain the Christian ideals. What is different however, is the lack of time we have to make significant changes to our behaviour.

Dietary Choices and Environmental Degradation

Keselopoulos (2001) addresses some of the human and environmental problems associated with the animal-based diet and food industry. He explains that famines in Africa, caused by drought and desertification, are due to the monoculture of commodities to supply food for the animals of the North. The result is:

“The cynical phenomenon of reserves of dried milk being sent to dying children in Africa, while their own land, instead of producing traditional foodstuffs for local use, is made barren by the monoculture of animal foodstuffs destined to feed Europe’s cattle.” 20

This is a crucial point. Our misuse of the land and water in order to meet our ever-increasing desire for animal-based food products has created an imbalance in the natural world, which results in harm to both humans and animals. One forensic question arising here is, is it a sin to continue to use this system and its products once we become aware of its devastating effects? Keselopoulos speaks to the point by explicitly linking our use of animals as food with the practice of aestheticism, compassion and pity for the natural world:

“Thus, aestheticism prophetically throws into high relief the prerequisite of compassion and pity for both nature and the beauty of the world. This is what can impede the downward spiral into barbarism that murders the animal kingdom by genetically mutating animals raised for beef or dairy products into freaks of nature and makes the land infertile.” 21

Keselopoulos not only illustrates the tension between economic interests and animal suffering, particularly in the animal-based food production industries, but also that fasting limits the number of deaths. In so doing, he affirms the teachings of H. A. H. Bartholomew and others on greed and evil profits; St. Gregory’s teachings on use not misuse and of the need for sacrifice. I condense his comments:

“If the motives for all these human activities is insatiable greed and the desire for easy profits, then fasting, as a voluntary self-restriction of human needs, can enable man to free himself, at least to a certain degree, from his desires. He can again discover his pristine character, which is to turn toward God, his neighbour and creation, with a genuinely loving disposition. Abstinence from meat, observed by monks all year long limits the amount of death we provoke in our relationship to the world. Abstinence from certain food simultaneously aims at protecting, even for a short period of time animals that in great numbers are so cruelly devoured by man. The spirit of fasting that we are obliged to preserve today throughout our culture requires that we change course in our relationship to nature from a predatory thirst for blood to that state of gratitude, which is the distinctive mark of the Eucharist.” 22

I concur with his analysis, which aligns with the latest scientific research. 23  Met. John Zizioulas provides a similar argument:

“Restraint in the consumption of natural resources is a realistic attitude and ways must be found to put a limit to the immense waste of natural materials.” 24

If this argument is apposite for wastage of ‘resources’, then it is equally apposite for the wastage of animal life. I interpret his use of ‘resource’ as referring to the inanimate creation but as there is, once again, room for confusion on its meaning, I remind the reader of the need for greater mindfulness in our choice of language. Despite Met. John’s belief that it would be unrealistic to expect our societies to follow an asceticism that echoes the lives of the saints, many of whom were vegetarian, millions of people choose this non-violent diet. They understand that whilst they as individuals may not be able to change the abusive practices of the animal food industries, they have the freedom to choose the alternative non-violent diet advocated by God and do so out of compassion and mercy for the animals and the environment. Met. Anthony of Sourozh indicates that the vegan/vegetarian diet is one to emulate and the tragedy of not doing so:

“It is frightening to imagine that Man, who was called to lead every being along the road to transfiguration, to the fullness of life, came to the point that he could no longer ascend to God, and was compelled to obtain his food by the killing of those, which he should have led to perfection. This is where the tragic circle closes. We find ourselves inside this circle. All of us are still incapable of living only for eternal life and according to the word of God, although the saints have in a large measure returned to God’s original conception of Man. The saints show us that we can through prayer and spiritual endeavour gradually free ourselves from the need to feed on the flesh of animals, and, becoming more and more assimilated to God, require less and less of it.” 25

This is important recognition from Met. Anthony. He links the eating of animals with a loss of human freedom and our inability to transfigure our fallen lives and ascend to God. Keselopoulos argues that vegan/vegetarianism breaks this circle. The fact that many ascetics were and are vegan/vegetarian ought to remind us of God’s original dietary choice and thus the most appropriate dietary path to follow. It is important to remember that whilst God gave us the dispensation to eat meat, He does not command or force us to do so; we retain the freedom to return to God’s choice. Perhaps if Met. Anthony had known more about the cruelty involved in animal food production he may also have chosen to become vegan/vegetarian. Met. Kallistos recognizes this possibility:

“Methods such as factory farming are rather new and I feel that if more people knew what happened they may well give up eating meat…People who live in towns like me eat the products but don’t know too much about the background and I think if I knew more about the background I might feel I might have to become a vegetarian.” 26

It is interesting to note that he also acknowledges that it is easy to find information available on the web, in reports and research and makes the obvious point. So perhaps it is more that people do not want to know, rather than not being able to access the information. Here we see a trace of Kahneman and St. Paul; we know what to do but choose not to act in the right ways. If we as individuals or as leaders of our Church advocated the non-violent diet of vegan/vegetarianism, this would not only reduce the number of animals who suffer but also reduce the many environmental problems associated with animal food production. Our increasing desire to consume animal products has resulted in the breeding of such vast numbers of animals that severe negative impacts have arisen for our environments. Knight (2013) provides us with the following important scientific information:

In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (Steinfeld et al,) calculated that when measured as carbon dioxide (CO2), 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gases (GHGs) –totalling 7.5 billion tons annually, result from the production of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs and poultry. These emissions result from land-clearing for feed crop production and grazing, from the animals themselves, and from the transportation and processing of animal products. In contrast, all forms of transportation combined were estimated to produce around 13.5 percent of global GHGs. The GHGs produced by animal production are composed of CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and ammonia. Steinfeld and colleagues calculated that the livestock sector is responsible for 9 percent of anthropogenic CO2 emissions-that is, those attributable to human activity-which mostly arise from deforestation caused by the encroachment of feed crops and pastures. Animal production occupies some 30 percent of the Earth’s land surface and is increasingly driving deforestation, particularly in Latin America. [Circa] seventy percent of previously forested Amazonian land has now been converted to pastures, with feed crops covering a large part of the remainder.

Animals kept for production emit 37 percent of anthropogenic methane, which has been calculated as exerting seventy-two times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2, over a twenty year time frame, mostly from gastrointestinal fermentation by ruminants (particularly, cows and sheep). They also emit 65 percent of anthropogenic nitrous oxide with 296 times the GWP of CO2, the great majority of which is released from manure. They also emit 64 percent of anthropogenic ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain and ecosystem acidification.

In 2009 Goodland and Anhang calculated that at least 22 billion tons of CO2 emissions attributable to animal production were not counted and at least 3 billion tons were misallocated by Steinfeld and colleagues. Uncounted sources included livestock respiration, deforestation and methane underestimates. They concluded that animal production actually accounts for at least 51 percent of worldwide GHGs and probably significantly more. Although the precise figures remain under study, it is nevertheless clear that the GHGs resulting from animal production are one of the largest contributors to modern climate change. 27

Although the precise figures remain under study, it is nevertheless clear that the impact of the animal-based diet on global warming continues to be underestimated and underreported. It is true that this situation is changing, but one wonders how many people have actually read the recent IPCC and other reports, which give us updates on these figures and the extent of ice-melt in Antarctica, etc.

Whilst Orthodox does not have a legalistic system, I believe we would fail in our duty to the laity and indeed our role as ‘Priest of Creation’ if we do not do more than is currently the case. Using the argument of self-interest as a motivating factor, we can see how abstinence from an animal-based diet could have immediate beneficial impact on climate change, our water sources, health and thus our future survival. We do not need to wait for world/government agreements in order to effect real and immediate change.

This partially addresses the human and environmental aspect of this theme but what about the animals, what do we know of their suffering in these industries? If we as individuals or as leaders of our Church are to engage with the theological and ethical implications of animal suffering, we need to acquaint ourselves with the available knowledge not only on the environmental impact of an animal-based diet but also on the suffering involved in the systems used. There is a tremendous amount of research in this area and here I condense some of that research whilst referencing others:

  • In order to meet the requirements of industrial production and high-density housing, animals are routinely branded with hot irons, de-horned, de-beaked, de-tailed and castrated without any sedation or painkillers…piglets have tails cut off and males are castrated by crushing or pulling off their testicles without analgesics, even though these procedures cause “considerable pain” (Broom and Fraser 1997). The same happens to lambs…The price for the mutilation is high for individual animals. Piglets show signs of pain for up to a week afterwards (including trembling, lethargy, vomiting and leg shaking). In lambs, stress hormone levels take a huge leap and they show signs of significant pain for four hours or more. Dairy calves who are dehorned show pain for six or more hours afterwards (Turner 2006). Birds too are mutilated without analgesics; beaks are trimmed and at times inside toes are also cut. After debeaking the animals will experience acute pain for circa two days and chronic pain lasts for up to six weeks (Duncan 2001). As stock numbers are vast, illness and injuries are likely to go undetected and result from high density, lack of space, lack of mental stimulation and physical exhaustion; physical and mental health problems quickly arise (Broom & Fraser 2007). Veal calves are often kept in tiny enclosures and tied down by their necks and quickly succumb to “abnormal behaviour and ill health” (Turner 2006; European Commission 1995). Intensive egg production weakens bones and leads to lameness, osteoporosis and painful fractures as all calcium and minerals are used for eggs causing “both acute and chronic pain”…it can also lead to internal haemorrhages, starvation and ultimately death which will be painful and “lingering” (Webster 2004:184). Cows suffer from mastitis and lameness (Stokka et al, 1997) and kept pregnant to keep milk yields high, (Vernelli 2005; Turner 2006).28

There is no other reason for these practices other than the desire for increased profit; the “evil profit” that Met. Kallistos describes. One question arising here is whether the required “spiritual revolution” should apply to the animals within such industries? If the answer is no, we ought to examine why we have chosen to exclude trillions of animals from receiving compassion, mercy and justice. If we conclude that they are merely for that use, then I believe we are in danger of continuing the mind-set of domination, which in turn, indicates that only human suffering is relevant to God. I submit that this mind-set is against the teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church and akin to the type of heresies the early church Fathers fought so hard to overcome.

Having given a small indication of the suffering endured during the rearing of animals, we should also consider their death. Most people no doubt believe that the killing of animals is ‘humane’ and undertaken close to home. Research provides evidence that even in countries with strict animal welfare laws, many millions are likely to suffer in the process of transportation and slaughter. Live animals are routinely transported by road, rail, sea or air across continents. All animal welfare charities agree that long distance transport causes enormous suffering through overcrowding, exhaustion, dehydration, pain and stress. For example, in the EU, up to 35 million chickens are dead by the time they reach the slaughterhouse. Australia exports around four million live sheep every year, mostly to the Middle East. These animals can travel up to fifty hours by road before they start the three weeks journey by sea and a further journey by road in the importing country. It is estimated that tens of thousands of sheep die before reaching their destination. Despite the Australian government’s implementation of an export supply-chain assurance scheme, investigations by animal welfare groups have documented terrible suffering at slaughter after export. Canada transports farm animals thousands of miles within its borders and to America. Animals can experience exceptionally harsh conditions as the climate changes from freezing cold to the scorching sun. The trucks used are often without air conditioning. In India, cattle travel vast areas as only two states are legally allowed to slaughter cows. Animals are often brutally treated and overcrowded during transport, resulting in severe injuries and fatalities. Thousands of animals travel from South America and reared for beef production in Asia and Africa. These journeys often involve the animals spending weeks at sea and result in inhumane slaughter. This is in addition to the problems of transportation, when delays, errors or accidents occur and thousands of animals die in tragic circumstances.

The spread of diseases is another worrying factor. Diseases such as bluetongue virus, foot and mouth disease, avian influenza and swine fever can be directly attributable to the live transportation of farm animals. Moving livestock long distances to markets and slaughterhouses can spread infectious diseases between animals around a country. Animals can travel from country to country with few medical checks, which can result in the spread of disease. In 2007, some cattle imported from continental Europe arrived with bluetongue virus because they had not been tested before their journeys began. The suffering often does not end when the journey is over. Duncan informs us that:

“Of all the things we do to our animals on the farm the things we do to them in the 24 hours before they are slaughtered reduce their welfare the most.” 29

In many countries animals are brutally loaded, unloaded and moved using electric goads, sticks, ropes, chains and sharp objects. Standards of slaughter vary. Some animals are inadequately stunned or not stunned at all before slaughter:

“Birds such as broiler chickens and turkeys are pulled and dragged by their feet and shoved into crates with great haste (up to thousands per hour). Dislocations and broken bones are common, as are internal injuries and death. Due to problems with stunning, birds face greater risk of missing the stunning machine and of entering the scalding tank alive and conscious.” 30

“Bleeding techniques can be poor, which means the pigs may regain consciousness whilst hanging upside down from the slaughter line shackles with a puncture wound in their chest. These animals will desperately try to right themselves, unable to comprehend what is happening to them. (Grandin 2003). ” 31

“Fish placed on ice take up to 15 minutes to lose consciousness, eventually dying through suffocation, and means that fish may be conscious when their gills are cut off.” 32

Gross informs us that pigs are not the only animals to regain consciousness during the slaughter process. When we become aware of the harmful realities of consuming animal food products, we understand why Met. Kallistos describes his experience of intensive farming as unchristian and the financial gains as “evil profit.” One question that begs asking here is where is the compassion, justice, mercy and inclusion into our community called for by the Ecumenical Patriarch, for the animals used in these systems?

Having outlined in my book, an Eastern Orthodox theory of love and compassion to all creatures, we must again ask if we are to apply it to animals in the food production industry. Again, if the answer is no, we ought to examine why we have chosen to exclude trillions of animals from inclusion in our spiritual revolution. If the answer is yes, we have the challenge of how we are to apply teachings on extending our community, justice and rights to the animals within these systems. This will not be easy, for those who use such practices or consume its products need to accept that changes are necessary.

In the context of this part of the discussion, there appear to be only two solutions: a) the animal food production industries stop reproducing vast numbers of animals. b) Consumers reduce or refrain from animal-based food products, thus reducing the demand, the number of animals reared, the environmental damage they cause and the overall suffering incurred. The first seems unlikely since the industry meets the demands of the consumer and makes huge profits in the process. The solution therefore, appears to lie with the consumer. This is where the leaders of our Church can play a significant role. If individuals were encouraged to refrain or reduce their consumption of animal-based food products this would be both an effective and immediate way of decreasing the demand, the animal suffering involved and the damage to the environment and human health. Basing the argument upon the likelihood that people will choose self-interest over altruism, Christians may be more accepting of this teaching if they knew of the health problems associated with an animal-based diet. Whilst this information is usually available via the health professions and the media there is also an important role for the Church. Patristic teachings evidence the destruction of God’s creation because of human passions and one frequent example is the self-centred love of gluttony. St. Gregory offers guidance:

“Use, do not misuse…Do not indulge in a frenzy of pleasures. Don’t make yourself a destroyer of absolutely all living things, whether they be four footed and large or four-footed and small, birds, fish, exotic or common, a good bargain or expensive. The sweat of the hunter ought not to fill your stomach like a bottomless well that many men digging cannot fill.” 33

A question arising here is if gluttony is a sin, is the killing of animals to feed this gluttony also a sin? St. Gregory’s use of negative language to describe the process: pillages, eradicates, artful hedonists, may indicate that this is so. Whilst St. John Chrysostom does not identify the food in the following, he does acknowledge the link between food and ill health:

“Don’t you daily observe thousands of disorders stemming from laden tables and immoderate eating?” 34

Russell (1980) informs us that:

“The control of the appetite was never over; it is instructive that it is gluttony as much as sexuality which was their continuous field of battle.” 35

Many people are ignorant of the detrimental health effects of consuming animal products. This, in part, is due to the vast sums of money used to market animal products as healthy, yet when we examine the research into diet and ill health we see a direct correlation between adopting the animal-based diets in developing countries with an increase in Western health problems, which includes obesity. In the UK, obesity has more than trebled in the last 25 years with nearly a third of adults and a fourth of children diagnosed as obese. Health experts believe that obesity is linked to a wide range of health problems, including some cancers ; diabetes; heart disease; high blood pressure; arthritis; infertility; indigestion; gallstones; stress, anxiety, depression; snoring and sleep apnoea.

Consuming animal-based food products is the norm for many cultures and despite numerous health warnings associated with animal food products, vast numbers of people continue to eat themselves into ill-health. Again, we see the importance of Kahneman’s work. Attitudes to diet will not be easy to change without education. Certainly, such education should be ongoing in schools and colleges; however this is another area where the leaders of the Church can play a significant role.

Moving to the soteriological implications of our actions H. A. H. Bartholomew offers some clarity. He begins with listing environmental calamities such as nuclear explosions, radioactive waste, toxic rain and polluting oil-spills then unusually, he adds a form of animal abuse to the list:

“We may also think of the force-feeding of animals so that they will provide more food for us. All this constitutes an insolent overthrow of natural order.” 36

This is a rare and essential teaching for the animal-based food production aspect of animal suffering. His acknowledgement of the violence and inhumane production processes involved is clear recognition that force-feeding animals is an example of the exploitation of ‘nature’. His language reminds us of St Gregory’s negative language in his teaching on “Use; do not misuse!” He also acknowledges the ill effects of the insolent overthrowing of the natural order to human health:

“Indeed, it is becoming generally accepted that the disruption of the natural order has negative effects on the health and well-being of human beings, such as the contemporary plagues of humanity, cancer, the syndrome of post virus fatigue, heart diseases, anxieties and a multitude of other diseases.” 37

His acknowledgement of the link between exploitative food production practices and harm to animal and human health is also critically important, for it highlights the interconnectedness of the created world. The question arising here is whether he has identified these processes as sins? A related and equally challenging moral and ethical question is whether it is right to kill innocent animals in medical research to treat disorders that have arisen from this form of human self-indulgence? H. A. H. Bartholomew’s teaching on humanity’s exploitation of nature in “greedy and unnatural ways” may help us to answer that question. I argue that these practices indicate not only the desire for evil profit but also continuing human arrogance and the sinful misuse of our freedom.

The teaching on the overthrowing of the natural order is equally applicable to another aspect of animal suffering, i.e. their loss of freedom. Animals kept in pens or cages are restricted in both their movements and natural behaviours. Examples would include gestation and veal crates; ‘battery’ and crush-cages; small cages or enclosures for animals with fur, or wild animals kept for human curiosity and entertainment. Keeping animals in these conditions causes physiological and psychological distress and ill-health. It seems reasonable therefore to include his specific example of force-feeding animals and my additions to it, as further examples of sins against animals. H. A. H. Bartholomew also speaks to the point on the negative soteriological implications for those who by their inaction and/or use of the products are part of the problem:

“We all share the responsibility for such tragedies, since we tolerate those immediately responsible for them and accept a portion of the fruit that results from such an abuse of nature.” 38

In applying his teaching to our theme, I can state that whilst we may not be killing or rearing the animals in inhumane ways, by our demand for animal-based food products, fur clothing or entertainment, we are part of the reason why such practices and processes exist. Essentially, we create the demand and the market. A helpful analogy here is the receiving of stolen goods. The challenge of moving from theory to practice remains.

A Role For The Church.

Eastern Orthodoxy teaches on the need for a spiritual revolution and on the extension of justice, rights, mercy, compassion, nonviolence and inclusion of nature into our community. We are also to be a ‘voice for the voiceless’, which indicates that we ought to act in ways that reduce animal suffering. What then are we as Eastern Orthodox Christians and the Church to say when we learn of the animal suffering involved in both the rearing and death of animals within these systems? Limouris speaks to the point when linking our Christian duty to identify injustices, which brings us back to personal sacrifice:

“Christian men and women must also have the courage to spell out the injustices, which they see, even though this might require them to make personal sacrifices. These sacrifices will include costly involvement and action.” 39

“We must repent for the abuses which we have imposed upon the natural world…We must work and lobby in every way possible…For ourselves, this means a recommitment to the simple life which is content with necessities and…a new affirmation of self-discipline, a renewal of the spirit of asceticism.” 40

“Words, however – even changed attitudes – will no longer suffice. Wherever we find ourselves, as Christians we need to act in order to restore the integrity of creation. A creative, cooperative, active and determined plan of action is required for implementation.” 41

If it is our individual Christian duty to identify injustices and act to prevent them, it seems reasonable to conclude that it ought to be the responsibility of the leaders of the Church. What then are the possibilities for us as individuals and leaders of our Church? Changing the attitudes of those who run these industrial processes will be difficult if not impossible without intervention from outside. This is one area where the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox Church could play a significant role just as they have done in their engagement with environmental issues. Examples here are H. A. H. Bartholomew’s Religion and Science environmental symposiums; his visit to the World Economic Forum at Davos and his recent coordinated action with Pope Francis where each convened business, scientific, and academic leaders in Rome and Athens respectively, to hasten the transition from fossil fuels to safe renewable energy. It is also possible therefore, to have this type of coordinated action for discussions on the environmental impact of an animal-based diet.

In my book we learn that some in authority are beginning to define cruelty, abuse and exploitation of animals within the animal-based food industries as a sin and an abuse of human freedom. We also have the following teaching from Abbot Khalil:

“Christians need to avoid eating meat wherever possible out of mercy for the animals and care for creation.” 42

I have been a vegan/vegetarian for 50 years and never before tried to ‘convert’ others to this diet. Times have changed. All of us ought to speak out to address the very real and imminent catastrophe of increasing climate change. In my work, I have repeatedly argued that abstinence from animal-based food products is a crucial element of effectively reducing animal suffering, environmental degradation and global warming. In defining the sin of exploitation and abuse in contemporary animal-based food production practices, the leaders of our Church would also be reaffirming Christ’s teaching in Luke 14:5 and the early Church tradition that we should act to prevent the suffering of God’s non-human beings. I argue that it will also be effective in moving our spiritual journey towards the likeness of an all-loving and compassionate God.

I am encouraged that those with authority urge us to be a voice for the voiceless and I am encouraged that the Eastern Orthodox environmental debate urges actions rather than words. This process has begun via Eastern Orthodox discussions on environmental issues and I respectfully submit that these discussions must now extend into the areas of animal suffering that arise from the same mind-set of domination over the natural world. I am also encouraged by teachings on the negative soteriological implications for those who inflict abuse, those who are indifferent to it and those who know, are concerned, but do not act to reduce the suffering. I repeat H. A. H. Bartholomew’s important teaching on the need for action:

“We are all painfully aware of the fundamental obstacle that confronts us in our work for the environment. It is precisely this: how to move from the theory to action, from word to deeds.” 43

Part of this process requires us to be mindful of our language. If we continually refer to animals as ‘the environment’, ‘nature’ or ‘resources’, it is unlikely that the majority of the laity will ever view them as part of our community, worthy of justice, rights and mercy and, unlikely to consider them as worthy of our love and compassion. Let us instead, begin to refer to them as animals or better still cows, sheep, chickens, etc., so that we facilitate the process of seeing them as individual beings loved by God, rather than as units of production or disposable life.

Sherrard’s description of our collective psychosis- our continuing walk to the abyss, indicates that we as individuals have not sufficiently understood Eastern Orthodox teachings and the leaders of our Church and our academics must address this failure. Part of this process will be to ensure that our priests and laity understand the Eastern Orthodox teachings related to animal suffering. For this to occur we need our leaders to engage with the subject. It has, apparently, been difficult for Christian Church leaders to advocate a vegan/vegetarian diet. This form of diet is almost the equivalent of a permanent strict fast, which requires daily sacrifice. Some have argued that we should promote the Orthodox fast and I agree that if everyone accepted this, it would certainly help. But we have little time. The scientists give us approximately 12 years to ‘turn the ship around’. We must be realistic. The question therefore is how realistic is it to expect others to adopt the complicated Orthodox fasting system? That said, there is nonetheless a significant role for the Orthodox Church. The concept of sacrifice is alien to many in contemporary societies but this is precisely where the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox Church have their role. Eastern Orthodoxy has the ascetic tradition and thus the authority to promote a diet that requires daily sacrifice, unlike other Christian faiths, secular ethicists or environmentalists. In order to facilitate this possibility, I end my discussion on the animal-based diet by presenting some practical proposals:

1) Orthodox leaders could urge Orthodox Christians and those outside our faith, to give up animal-based diets entirely or, as a first step, abstain from foods produced in intensive farming practices. In so doing, the impact on animal suffering, human health and environmental damage would be enormous.

2) If our Patriarchs and Bishops were to declare their intention not to consume or provide animal-based food products at their meetings, this would send a strong message and focus the minds of both clergy and laity.

3) Our leaders could affirm the sin of inflicting harm upon God’s animal creation in order to achieve ever-increasing profits.

An essential part of changing the view of animals as ‘disposable lives’ will require the education of our priests on the many problems associated with the animal food production industries. Seminary modules can be adapted from the module framework, outlined in Appendix B of my book. Such training would enable our priests to teach a coherent message that will result in the reduction of animal suffering, improvements in our health and the environment and in advancing our spiritual journeys. I have been invited to speak at the forthcoming Summit in Istanbul, where I am to ‘inspire’ the leaders of our seminaries and academies to include a module on environmental and animal care. I ask for your prayers in this important work.

As a way of further facilitating the above, the Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals charity, is working in an ecumenical context, to produce an ethical framework to guide the policy and practice of Churches and other Christian institutions, about farmed animal welfare. This initiative aims to develop resources and work with institutions to support the development and implementation of policy in this area. The endorsement of Eastern Orthodox Church involvement in such initiatives sends a clear message to the laity and manufacturers that it is time to change their practices.

Finally, to be clear, I do not state that all those working within this industry are cruel or evil people, though there are many recorded instances of people exhibiting such tendencies. What I do say, is that the system itself is a form of legalized violence to animals which is contributing to climate change, human ill-health and animal suffering, thus repeating the cosmic disharmony discussed by the early church Fathers. I submit that it is incompatible with early and contemporary teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church and ought therefore, to be rejected.

Ref:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             1. Luke 14:5.                                                                                                                     2. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2.2:5; 4.18.6.                                                                3. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Homilies, 13:2; see also 13:35 & 15:3. Note Cyril of Jerusalem’s point on stewardship, Catechetical Homilies, Homily 15:26; also, Mt 5:16.                                4.Basil,Hexaemeron 7:5.                                                                                                 5.  H. A. H. Bartholomew.      6. Harakas, ‘Ecological Reflections on Contemporary Orthodox Thought in Greece.” Epiphany Journal 10 (3): 57.                              7. Met. Kallistos interview Ch. 6, in, Nellist. C. Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Animal Suffering: Ancient Voices in Modern Theology, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018. 8. Summarized by Clement of Alexandria,as the ‘Harmony of the parts of the soul’, Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis, 4.26; also, Harakas, ‘The Integrity of Creation’, 76. 9. Harakas, ‘The Integrity of Creation: Ethical Issues” in, Justice Peace and the Integrity of Creation: Insights from Orthodoxy, edited by L. Gennadios, 70-82. Geneva: WCC, 1990:77. 10. Bonhoeffer, Ethics. Ed. E. Bethge. Translated by N, Horton Smith. London & NY: SCM Press, 1978:176. 11. Bartholomew, “Caretaker of the Environment.” 30th June, 2004.  12. Bartholomew, Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today: His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland: Doubleday. 2008:107; also, Chryssavgis, Speaking the Truth, 297; Met. John, ‘Man as Priest of Creation.’ 13. Bartholomew, “Justice: Environmental and Human” composed as “Foreword” to proceedings of the fourth summer seminar at Halki in June (1997) in, Chryssavgis, Speaking the Truth, 173; also, “Environmental Rights” in, Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 260. 14. Bartholomew “The Orthodox Church and the Environment,” in Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 2009:364                                                                                                    

15. Met. Kallistos (Ware) ‘Orthodox Christianity: Compassion for Animals’, paper given at IOTA conference, Iasi, Romania, 2019. Also in The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics, ed by A. Linzey and C. Linzey, Routledge, 2018.                                                                                                         

16. Ibid.                                                        

17. Bartholomew, “Sacrifice: The Missing Dimension” in Cosmic Grace, 2008:275.

18. Ibid.

19. Bartholomew, “Address before the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly,” in Speaking the Truth, 2011:283.

20. Keselopoulos, Man and the Environment: A Study of St. Symeon the New Theologian, trans. E. Theokritoff. Crestwood, NY: SVSP, 2001: 93.

21. Keselopoulos “The Prophetic Charisma in Pastoral Theology: Asceticism, Fasting and the Ecological Crisis” in Toward Ecology of Transfiguration: Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Environment, Nature and Creation, eds. Chryssavgis J., and B. V. Foltz, NY: Fordham University Press, 2013:361.

22. Keselopoulos in Chryssavgis & Foltz, p 361-2

23. See the latest IPCC, WMO, NASA reports and the latest edition of The Lancet.

24. Zizioulas,  ‘Comments on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’’. Available at:

25. Met. Anthony (Bloom) Encounter, 135.

26. Met. Kallistos, Ch. 6 in, Nellist, C. Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Animal Suffering: Ancient Voices in Modern Theology. 2018.

27. Knight A, “Animal Agriculture and Climate Change” in, The Global Guide to Animal Protection, ed. A. Linzey, pp. 254-256. Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2013; also in Nellist op. cit., pp. 250-1.

28. Broom and Fraser Farm Animal Behaviour and Welfare. (NY: CABI Publishing, 1997; Turner Stop, Look, Listen: Recognising the Sentience of Farm Animals, (A Report for Compassion in World Farming. 2006; Duncan ‘Animal Welfare Issues in the Poultry Industry: Is There a Lesson to Be Learned’, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 2001; Webster, “Welfare Implications of Avian Osteoporosis.” Poultry Science 83 (2004),  pp. 184-92; G. Stokka, J.Smith and J. Dunham, Lameness in Dairy Cattle, (Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, 1997). Available at:; T. Vernelli, The Dark Side of Dairy-A Report on the UK Dairy Industry, 2005. Available at:; European Commission, 1995, 2001, 2012; Aaltola, Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture (Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave2012:34-45. Aaltola provides many other reports and scientific studies, which outline numerous examples of suffering.

29. Duncan, 2001:216.

30. Duncan, 2001:211. See also Gregory and Wilkins, “Broken Bones in Domestic Fowl: Handling and Processing Damage in End-of-Lay Battery Hens.”; Weeks & Nicol, “Poultry Handling and Transport”; Webster, “Welfare Implications of Avian Osteoporosis.”

31. Grandin, T. ‘The welfare of pigs during transport and slaughter’ Pig News and Information, 24:3, 83-90. Those who follow Judaism and Islam still slaughter animals in the biblical tradition. A recent undercover investigation highlights the inhumane actions and immense suffering of animals:; also,

32. Lymbery, ‘In Too Deep: The Welfare of Intensively Farmed Fish’ available at:

33. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Love for the Poor, 57.

34. St. John Chrysostom, On Repentance and Almsgiving, 10.5, 130.

35. Russell, The Lives of the Desert Fathers, Oxford. Mowbray & Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1981:37.

36. “Message by H. A. H. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew upon the Day of Prayer for the Protection of Creation,” 1st September 2001, in Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 56.

37. Ibid.

38. The acceptance of stolen goods makes the point. “Message by H. A. H. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew upon the Day of Prayer for the Protection of Creation” 1st September, 2001 in, Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 57.

39. Limouris Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation: Insights from Orthodoxy, 1990:24, no 30.

40. Ibid, 12, no 37.

41. Ibid, 12, no 38.

42. Abba Khalil, private conversation, 15th April 2018. Used with permission.

43. Bartholomew, “Sacrifice: The Missing Dimension,” in Cosmic Grace, p. 275.

Dr. Christina Nellist, Editor of Pan Orthodox Concern For Animals. Email: