Hunting nun with a trophy deer misses the mark on Catholic teachings (COMMENTARY)

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(RNS) It's a mistake to dismiss the criticism Sister Bauer has received as coming from “liberals.” As a Catholic theologian, I’m committed to a set of traditions and teachings that make it clear it’s deeply problematic to proudly display a carcass from a deer one has just killed.

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  • Mary B

    After the flood, God declared animals to be human food. (Gen. 9). Animals were deemed clean and unclean when Moses received the Law. Deer are among the clean animals. (Lev. 11). Peter was told to kill and eat both classes (Acts 10 &11.) Paul’s advice? See Col. 2:16, Rom. 14, I Cor. 8 & 10. Surely Jesus ate meat at Passover.
    Game officers here in WV monitor the number and health of our herd and set the days, areas, and type of deer that NEED to be harvested each year (yes, HARVESTED) to maintain heard health. Around 70,000 were taken in 2015. Pay “professionals” to hunt that many? When hunters gladly buy licenses?
    Our hunters do eat venison, and tons of it was also donated to feed the hungry & homeless. Many churches here even help pay to have it processed!
    Bear barbecue has been on local church dinner menu, too!

  • Larry

    Oh c’mon people! Are you saying that convents never had livestock, ever? That nuns have never had the need to kill an animal which was used for food.

    How much different is hunting from say slaughtering chickens raised in a pen or fishing from a theological standpoint (aside from the old testament kosher ban on hunting, except for survival)?

    Its not like nuns have an aversion to unnecessary cruelty to living things. Millions of Catholic School students have attested to that!

  • Chauffeur

    The author said; “Humans are commanded to eat a vegetarian diet.”

    Jesus ate meat – The Passover meal involved eating a roasted unblemished lamb – either from the goats or the sheep. Jesus also ate fish.

    So, as a “Catholic theologian” (who is neither on the left nor the right) are you saying that the Son of God disobeyed His own law?

    I request that you look up the word “Pantheist”. It has to do with worshiping creation rather than the One who was the Creator. It might be eye opening.

  • Robert Wade

    Genesis 9:2-3 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the field and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

  • “Animals belong to God…”

    Okay –
    But The food chain was supposedly LOVINGLY designed by God, too!
    Animals eat other living things. Let’s all grow up for goodness sake.

  • Karen

    Professor Camosy is spot-on with his commentary. Hunting an animal for food is one thing, posing and grinning with the fallen beast is another. There is no honor in taking an animal’s life and boasting about it. All animals are God’s creatures, and even the ones we use for food, we should respect in their death.

  • Faith of Our Fathers

    Posting articles like this reveals a lot about this website. “Religion” is distorted at RNS. This author’s argument is not even biblically based. He focuses too much on the nun’s “conservation” of the deer population though she also mentions necessity of food. And now Mary is somehow a great overseer of animal rights on earth? God has given us the authority over the animals and we’re allowed to eat them. If you want to argue inhumane treatment of animals in cases of animal cruelty (Ex: Killing dogs just kill them), than I will stand with you. This sounds more like someone who is jealous of hunters because he can’t aim straight.

  • FDT

    Sounds like the west coast has made it to the east coast.

  • Garson Abuita

    The author’s contempt for hunters is both obnoxious and ignorant. He basically tars them all as drunks, then goes on to say that bear hunting has nothing to do with conservation. Bear overpopulation can be just as much an issue as with deer, and its meat is edible. Further, the claim that all hunters should essentially be military snipers in order to avoid unnecessary suffering is more than a bit overwrought.
    But my bigger question is with Catholic teaching. The author seems to posit that hunting violates Catholic teaching unless it is needed for survival. Can someone state whether that’s really the case? Because it doesn’t sound like it from what I’ve read elsewhere.

  • Joe

    This is a poorly constructed argument based on emotion rather than facts. Your assertion that hunting for conservation purposes should be left to “professional marksmen” is pure city-dweller drivel and shows you have little or no first-hand experience around hunting or guns. It is not remotely difficult for a practiced shooter using reasonable judgement to kill deer humanely.

    Further, one can extend your argument quite easily to a number of activities beyond hunting. Driving our cars at high speed puts deer and other animals in grave danger. One could argue based on you logic that we, as caretakers of wildlife, should drive 15 miles per hour at all times so as to not put animal lives at risk.

    Lastly, your comment that “most are hungover weekend warriors” is an unnecessary and biased judgement condemning many for the poor behavior of very few. It would be analogous to stating that most Catholic priests are child molesters.

  • Joseph Silver

    “Theologically speaking, what are animals for? Genesis 1 and 2 have some very interesting answers to this question. Animals are created “good,” period, without any reference to us. Humans are commanded to eat a vegetarian diet. Animals are brought to Adam ‘because it is not good man should be alone.'”
    Theologically speaking, you are wrong. God gave dominion over all the Earth and its creatures to man (Gen 1:26-28). Man is made in the image of God; the only creature to have a will and has a conscience choice to follow it or not. This is evident because Adam knew that he was different than all of the other animals that God created (Gen 2:20). Animals were created for Adam, how does that not have reference to us?
    Examples of just purposes for hunting that the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out are food, clothing, medical and scientific experimentation, and the work and leisure of man (CCC 2417–8). Animals have no rights, but we as humans are to treat the with responsible…

  • Peyton

    I wonder why it is so hard for hunters to admit that they really enjoy the killing.

  • Seems to me a lot of the world’s troubles got started when God rejected Cain’s sacrifice of vegetables and approves of Abel’s sacrifice of meat. I’m gonna go with God on this one.

  • Rick R.

    “Hunters are almost never professional marksmen or women. Most are hungover weekend warriors for whom hunting is a kind of vacation with their buddies.”

    Apparently, the author has never had to rely on hunting to put food on his table.

    I doubt Jesus would degrade others who are feeding their families by calling them drunks.

    The amount of elitism in this article is astounding.

  • Sabelotodo2

    What a bunch of wimps! Bravo for the nun! Yes, animals are good, and–when cooked right, are delicious! Our forefathers would have starved, had they been possessed with such advanced, superior intellect and theological reasoning. Thank God they were more down-to-earth, and had their priorities straight.

    I’ve known folks who’ve made pets of deer, also calves, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens. They were usually lonely rural animal husbandmen whose isolation didn’t permit them to take full advantage of our human need to be companions with other humans!

  • ANN

    Elk County, PA is known for its hunting,season.
    Thousands of city folks go there to hunt. The nun in the article is a Benedictine nun, one of many that have taught our sons and daughters.
    Indeed, I am sure Sister will share the venison with some needy families. It’s a shame that so much has been made of the common, popular sport of hunting.

  • STM

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in sections 2415-2418, but the main part is here in sections 2417 ” God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.” Notice the part about use animals for food. Shooting an animal and leaving its carcass is wrong. Shooting an animal just to see it suffer is wrong. Shooting it for sport, hunting and using the animal afterward is just fine. describes all this much better