CBS planning 'Ministry of Animals' special

May 18, 2010 at 5:11 PM
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NEW YORK, May 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. television network CBS says it plans to air an interfaith religion special called "Ministry of Animals."

The program about spirituality and animals is to be broadcast June 13 on the network.

Among the topics explored in the program are dogs that the clergy uses as a means of pastoral care. Also known as "ministry dogs," these assistance dogs are formally trained at the National Education for Assistance Dog Services' Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans in Princeton, Mass.

The program introduces the Rev. Debbie Blanchard, pastor of First Baptist Church in Littleton, Mass., who agreed to have "Mosby," a NEADS-trained dog, as part of her church community. She encourages churches to explore ways to use animals in ministry because she's found that dogs are helpful to people during times of tragedy, counseling or sorrow.

Also featured in "The Ministry of Animals" are the monks of New Skete, formerly part of the Byzantine-Rite Franciscans, who are now a separate Eastern Orthodox monastic community in Cambridge, N.Y.

Viewers will meet Brother Stavros and Brother John, monks who breed and train German Shepherds in order to support their order.

In the special, Harvard Divinity School professor Kimberley Patton explains the roles animals have played within the various world religions. Viewers will also witness part of the annual blessing of the animals at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, CBS said.

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