A Lesson on Animal Treatment: Stray Dog in a Church
A stray dog entered a church where mass was being celebrated Then, the local priest immediately gave the dog his holy blessing. The incident occurred in the São José Operário parish, in the São Paulo municipality of Sorocaba, Brazil. And it became an example of good animal treatment.
As often happens in these times, a photo of the particular moment went viral on social networks. The photo spread throughout the world straight away.
‘Waguinho’ and the Stray Dog
The human protagonist in this story was Father Wagner Ruivo, known as “Waguinho”. After the encounter with the dog, the priest said: “I learned that the love of God must reach everyone. Yes, that means everyone.”
Little is known about the little animal in question. The priest suggested that he may simply have been lost. After all, his appearance didn’t indicate that he had been living as a street dog for an extended period.
The truth is that nobody who was there that day had seen him before he entered the church. And after the encounter with Father Ruivo he was never seen again. But the priest has declared that if the dog appears again in the parish, he will be more than welcome as a member of the local religious community.
The photo shows the stray dog entering the church and receiving the priest’s blessing. Unsurprisingly, it immediately went viral across social networks the world over. And hopefully, the attention the image is receiving will serve to raise awareness about the respect necessary humane animal treatment.
To Be and To Seem – That is the Question
Positive attitudes like the one shown by this priest may help to awaken nwarm feelings and smiles. Additionally, it could encourage concrete acts of humane animal treatment. This would especially aid those in distress.
I remember two events that I witnessed, both of which involved supposedly practicing Catholics. And, both events aroused my indignation. They show that simply going to church every Sunday does not grant you a ‘good people’s card,’ and the right to sit back and do nothing the rest of the week.
One occurred on the sidewalk of my local parish, right by the church. As I was passing by this particular stretch of sidewalk, my attention was attracted by the presence of a small stray dog. And, the dog was very dirty and disheveled.
On one particular occasion, everyone who had been attending Mass began to leave the church and pour out onto the sidewalk. Several children began to harass the animal. They were shouting at him and kicking him. And, the indifferent adults did nothing. Needless to say, the dog fled in fright.
In Search of Good Christians
Another occurrence made me detest the hypocritical attitudes of some people. I witnessed the event in an important, bustling tourist city.
Passing a church, I had approached in order to appreciate its architectural details. As I got close, I noticed that the caretaker of the historic building was busy trying to throw out a stray dog. Needless to say, this did not sit right with me at all. And, I attempted to speak to him of God’s love towards all creatures, and proper animal treatment.
The issue is that professing belief in a religion does not give us the stamp of goodness. This is especially true when it comes to animals. There is still a lot of work we need to do to educate and raise awareness about abandonment, mistreatment and responsible attitudes towards animals.
Notes on Religion and the Treatment of Animals
Father Ruivo, the protagonist of the first story we looked at, said that the dog burst into the parish just as he was preaching about showing love to all living beings. And during his sermon, he took the opportunity to call to mind the words of Pope Francis, who spoke about the need to care for our common home (Planet Earth) and, therefore, all who inhabit it.
Religion and animal protection are far from incompatible – or at least they should be. Or could it be that, as they explain to us, we weren’t all created by a superior being?
Of course, not all religions approach the question of animal protection and the hierarchy of being in the same way, and expounding on it is beyond the scope of this article. But what it is important to note is that, although it is complex, the idea of respecting all beings and seeking harmony with nature is always fruitful.
I only hope that one day we will achieve it – perhaps it’s not just the photo of “Waguinho” and the stray dog that will go viral, but also a dedication to respecting all the living beings that inhabit our blessed planet. Amen.
Source: Facebook page of Father Wagner Ruivo