Can Catholics hunt for sport?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, God entrusted man with the responsibility of stewardship over animals, which includes using them for just purposes such as food, clothing, medical and scientific experimentation, and work and leisure activities (CCC 2417-8). However, it is crucial that man does not cause animals to suffer and die unnecessarily as this would be contrary to human dignity. While animals do not have rights as humans do, man has a human responsibility to treat them with reasonable care.
So, does this mean that sport hunting is excluded? The answer is no. While deliberately causing an animal to suffer for entertainment purposes would be contrary to the principles of stewardship, the vast majority of hunters do not engage in such practices. Some hunters use the meat and skins of the animals they hunt, while others help to maintain the balance of nature through carefully regulated licensing procedures to control animal overpopulation. Some hunt for sport, but the sport lies in the tracking, gun skills, and trophy hunting rather than in causing unnecessary suffering and death to animals. Responsible hunters ensure that they do not leave a wounded animal injured by a badly aimed shot to suffer and make sure to track it down and end its suffering.
Therefore, in summary, the Church does not oppose sport hunting as long as it is conducted in a responsible and ethical manner, and the principles of stewardship and reasonable care are observed.