Prayer book for pets is launched

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The Independent Online
THE ONLY blessing bestowed on most animals is: "For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful." But next month a book of services especially for animals, including a burial service, healing liturgy, and Eucharistic prayers, is to be published.

The 14 liturgies have been compiled by the Rev Professor Andrew Linzey, a fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford, where he holds the world's first post in Christian Theology and Animal Welfare. His latest book, Animal Rites, is dedicated to "Barney, still wagging his tail in heaven".

Many churches now have animal-blessing services, particularly around St Francis's Day on 4 October, but there is no authorised liturgy for animals. Dr Linzey hopes the Church will take up his suggestions.

"Imagine you are a parish priest and a parishioner comes to you and says their much-loved companion - their pet - has died," he said. "I don't think it's a feasible Christian response to say: `Put it out with the garbage without a prayer.'"

Dr Linzey has written a rite for healing, which can include the laying on of hands and the use of holy oil with prayer, a liturgy for a vigil for animals suffering exploitation from human beings, and litanies for the protection of such animals.