Can a Christian be a hunter?

In the fall, just as surely as the mushrooms grow in the woods and the bugs fall from the chestnut trees, the hunting season returns. Christians, who see the Creation of God’s work, can they, in a context of the collapse of biodiversity (1), partake in a hobby that consists of killing an animal, which has no need to feed? In fact, the explosion in the number of major sports in our country, and the damage it causes, should be regulated. But opponents of hunting point to the responsibility of hunters to increase the number of certain species, such as wild boar, by preventing the reproduction of females, which have the goal of hunting…

Three Eurasian curlews have been shot in France since the opening of waterfowl hunting, although it is a vulnerable species whose hunting is prohibited since 2020. How can one be a Christian about deliberately killing an animal whose population is declining dramatically? », lamented the naturalist Johannes Herrmann (2), who advocated ” excessive costs from an ecological point of view in this hobby. “I have seen hunters who boasted of shooting 800 lapwings every winter, all of which were given to the dogs. “, he protested. In fact, such an example directly contradicts the Catechism of the Catholic Church which describes that “it is against human dignity (the act) to make animals suffer needlessly and waste their lives. »

However, far from finding the most perfect hunting list possible, some hunters describe a completely different relationship with this practice. ” Like the fisherman or the gatherer, the hunter always visits nature by seeking what it produces itself, and by taking something wild from it.promoted Father Patrick Guinnepain, parish priest of Brenne, in the diocese of Bourges.

From a family of farmers, where we are always looking for », practicing small game hunting, he described « a nuanced relationship with nature, which is not a land that I can exploit too much to give back to it all that it can give. “Hunting is exactly where he’s allowed “to maintain an emotional connection with nature”to the point that he nurtures a “spirituality of offering” : ” The fruit of the earth and the work of men became the source of salvation, Father Guinnepain revealed. How our way of living, cultivating, organizing and developing Creation is not an occasion for greed, abuse of power, violence and mistreatment, including vis-à-vis generations to come, but think and live with the goal of the salvation of all? »« I like to see wild animals, plants, I like nature, the priest continued hunting. Throughout the summer, when the wild animals faced the drought, we spent time shaving and watering, this is also part of the hunters’ activity, apart from the hunting season ».

Father Guinnepain also admitted “ a no less social dimension “: “ The great joy of hunting is hunting for game, the fact of making my dog ​​work… We miss a lot! But if you are talented, you will play, a fish, a mushroom … And then there is the joy of cooking, sharing.continued one who admitted that he almost never buys meat. I have patrons who kill their pigs or cows, I barter a lot for my terrines! »

In a largely rural society, hunting has long been part of common local culture,” analyzes Dominique Lang, Assumptionist priest and animator of the Churches and Ecologies blog. In French history, after becoming the privilege of an elite, the right to hunt was liberalized, becoming a revolutionary achievement, and thus an expression of the freedom and equality of individuals. “But with the evolution of society, hunting is also done a practice or hobby, which raises other questions, emphasized Dominique Lang. Today, many hunted animals are raised on farms and shot within days of their release. What is the meaning of this practice? »

These questions did not escape Agnès Bonnet’s mind. It was upon returning, during retirement, to the region of his grandparents, that this committed parishioner decided to obtain a hunting permit. For this 66-year-old woman, who lives on the edge of the national forest of Tronçais (Allier), this activity goes hand in hand with an ecological awareness. “ I have drastically reduced my meat consumption, refusing to buy meat from factory farms, chain-killed in intensive industrial slaughterhouses.he said. Now, the meat I eat is bought from a local producer or from hunting. According to this choice, Agnès, who mainly hunts deer and wild boar, has little taste for shooting pheasants bred in captivity. ” QWhen my grandfather went hunting, he always said: ‘we help ourselves, and we stop”, he recalled, promoting tax moderation. We are not on a shooting range and we are not here to paint. »

In the Old Testament there are calls for moderation in the taking of natural species, Johannes Herrmann remembered his part. In the same jubilee idea, which is the rest of the earth, we can call to stop hunting so that the ecosystems can recharge their batteries. »

Jesus caught a fish, ate a lamb, emphasized Dominique Lang. In the practice of people rooted in a territory and for whom hunting, fishing, breeding are part of the local economy, have, completely, Not much to say. But we must not hide behind an idyllic vision of hunting to say no today that. » Being able, without ideology, to face unchangeable ethical behavior such as illegal hunting or the global trade in wild animals, is important, according to the religious Assumptionist. So more importantly, in continuation of Laudato si’, to open new spaces for dialoguethe to allow for content changes. For example, by organizing, in a parish, meetings where people who practice hunting and those who do not practice it can listen to each other, start from common values ​​and thus overcome sterile divisions to defend the urgent common battles against degrading excesses and materialistic excesses. »

STAY AWAY. What is the value of animals?

– Saint Hubert († 727), patron saint of hunters, owes his conversion, according to tradition, to an encounter with a deer, on Good Friday when his passion for hunting made him leave the office. ” Hubert! How long will you chase the animals in the forest? How long will this vain feeling make you forget the salvation of your soul? “, he should have heard. Immediately choosing the religious life, he became bishop of Liège-Maastricht and Tongres

– In the encyclical Laudato si’, Pope Francis revisits the question of the right value of animals:

-” At the same time that we are able to use things responsibly, we are called to recognize that other living beings have their own value before God and ‘through their lives they bless him and give glory to him’, because ‘the Lord is pleased with his works’ (Ps 104, 31) (no. 69)

-” Now the Church not only says that other creatures are completely subject to human welfare, as if they have no value in themselves and we can dispose of them at will. (no. 69)

If we read in the Gospel that Jesus talks about birds, and says that “not one of them is forgotten in the sight of God” (Lk 12:6): can we still mistreat them or harm them? ? (No. 221).

TO ENHANCE THE REFLECTION.

→ What place do animals occupy in the Bible?
→ Do animals go to heaven?
→ “ Relationships with animals raise questions deep in the heart »

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