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Articles

Bishop joins animal protest

From the Church Times, 12 May 1995
by Susan Young

The Bishop of Dover this week joined protesters at the town docks as lorry-loads of animals passed through on their way to the slaughterhouses of Europe.

It was the latest move by the Rt. Revd Richard Llewellin in a personal campaign which began at a pets' service on Sunday, when he denounced what he described as "this cruel traffic in live animals".

On Wednesday morning, Bishop Llewellin stood with Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok as one of the convoys of sheep trucks, heavily escorted by police, turned in through the dock gates. Together they said prayers and then blessed the animals.

A diocesan spokesman, Donald Witts, said about 200 protesters had gathered, and they seemed to appreciate the "prayerful protest" staged by the two religious leaders. "Some of them were in tears," he said.

During his address at St Andrew's Church in Buckland on Sunday, Bishop Llewellin said he believed it would be irresponsible of him to speak at a pet service without noticing what was going on in Dover and other ports around the country: "the trade in live animals to mainland Europe in conditions which we know do cause unnecessary suffering".

He congratulated those government ministers who were trying to get the European law changed; but, he said, "we are part of Europe, and we can give a moral lead by saying that we will have no part in this cruel trade."

Bishop Llewellin said the pets brought to the service should be a reminder of people's responsibilities for all God's creatures, including livestock. "Indifference to their fate is, in the end, an insult to our own domestic creatures," he declared. "It is also an insult to God himself."

Support for the Bishop of Dover's stand came from the Bishop of Colchester, the Rt Revd Edward Holland, who also has an animal-export centre in his area, at Brightlingsea. "It is something I have cared about for a long time," he said.

Bishop Holland believed the Government could try to stop the trade if it wanted to. He acknowledged that ministers had been told they couldn't because of European law, "but if they had any spirit in them they would try. They might lose, but at least they would have stood on the right side."

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr. Eric Kemp, with the animal-exporting port of Shoreham in his diocese, has spoken out against the trade in the past. This week he was quoted as saying that while the Bible taught that animals could be used by humans, this must be done in "a proper, humane manner".

The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt. Revd William Westwood, also sided with Bishop Llewellin. He thought the important thing was the way in which animals were kept and killed; he couldn't see why animals could not be reared properly and then slaughtered closer to home. "I think we have offended against God," he said.

Professor Andrew Linzey, senior research fellow in theology and animal welfare at Mansfield College, Oxford, said: "I am delighted that the bishops are at last speaking out on animal exports, I think they deserve warm congratulation."


Cartoon (caption: "The size of the Bishop's flock seems to have increased recently")  Church Times 1995

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