Christian Compassion for Animals: A Taizé Retreat Insight

Posted February 15, 2024

Laura Morosini of the Laudato Si´Movement gathers workshop participants outside in shared reflection.

In the heart of a retreat in Taizé, France Barbara Niedźwiedzka and Estela Torres led an unexpected workshop: “Enlarge the Circle of Compassion: Introduction to Animals as a Christian Concern.” This session not only fostered deep discussions on the spiritual and moral responsibilities Christians hold towards animals, but also immersed participants in reflective exercises that illuminated the ethical dimensions of human-animal relationships.

Barbara and Estela represent Christian for Animals-Poland and Christian animal advocacy organization FRA – Fraternité pour le Respect Animal (Fraternity for Animal Respect) respectively and both working group members of the Laudato Si´Action Platform. This organization dedicates itself to fostering respect and compassionate care for animals within the Christian community, emphasizing the integral connection between faith, environmental stewardship, and animal welfare. 

Barbara continues the workshop presentation in the cozy atmosphere of the retreat.

One participant remarked, “This workshop opened my eyes to see animals in a different light, not just as creatures, but as part of God’s creation deserving our care and respect.” Another shared, “I felt a deep connection to the stories shared, compelling me to rethink my daily choices and their impact on animals.”

Barbara and Estela bridged these personal awakenings to the broader concept of integral ecology, later emphasizing the interconnectedness of all life:

“When we care for animals, we are caring for the planet,” Barbara explained, linking every act of compassion to the health of our common home. Estela added, “It’s about seeing the face of Christ in every creature.” 

This approach is rooted in the Christian tradition of seeing the reflection of the divine in all living things and is consistent with the call to care for God’s creation. Their insights offer an understanding of how animal welfare fits into the puzzle of ecological balance, urging participants to consider every living being in their call to stewardship. As the workshop concluded, the participants left with a renewed sense of purpose, inspired to integrate the lessons learned into their lives. 

This drawing comes from a children’s version of the workshop that Barbara conducts regularly. The Polish text in the picture translates to: “Humans should help God restore peace and love among all creatures on Earth.”

Reflecting on the journey towards embodying Laudato Si’, Barbara and Estela advised starting with introspection:

“Identify what resonates with you deeply,” Barbara suggested, advocating for small, local actions that collectively lead to systemic change. Estela encouraged, “The key is to start, not to be perfect. Embrace small steps and be gentle with yourself as change unfolds.” 

In the spirit of sharing knowledge and promoting compassionate action, we encourage you to explore the resources library on the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. Discover what fellow participants have contributed concerning care for animals, or enrich our collective wisdom by adding your own resources on this topic or others. This is an opportunity to deepen our understanding on ethical stewardship and the well-being of all creatures.