What is the traditional teaching of the Church with regard to animals? To what extent, if any, do we have a moral obligation to their treatment? I believe I have read that animals have temporary souls, but they do not have immortal souls, and they are definitely not made in the image of God. Any links to good, traditional sources would also be much appreciated!
The traditional teaching is that man was given dominion over all the animals. So animals have no rights.
That said. man has responsibilities. I have no doubts that deliberate acts of cruelty are sinful. There is however a problem in determining what is an act of cruelty around today. In our countries, usually common sense prevails and society has enacted laws to abide by. There are of course extremests who believe an animal and a human being should be treated equally.
The Scriptures do not go down well with such people. God requested animal sacrifices and millions of animals were killed to appease Him.
I have often pondered on this. Knowing God as we do, I have no doubt that animals do not really know what is about to happen to them as a result of man or nature and therefore have no suffering in any way that we would call suffering. Yes, animals do feel pain. Only God knows how He has protected them. We who know Christ know He he is compassion incarnate and must have provided for this even with animals.
Hope this is the kind of reply you sought Paul.