The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973



The other side of religion
From the November/December 1983 edition of Outrage! with thanks to Animal Aid:

'The Catholic Priory at Storrington in West Sussex owns a farm in the village in which up to 750 calves are reared in typical crated veal conditions.

The calves are chined by the neck and kept in narrow crates, unable to lie down comfortably or turn around. They have been taken away from their mothers only a short time after birth and spend the first six weeks of their short lives in these crates, standing on wooden slats.

After this period of time, the calves are loaded onto lorries, exported overseas and fattened up for the dinner table. The Priory have not disclosed the actual destinations, saying that once they have been sold, the fate of the animals is not their responsibility. Nevertheless, the likelihood is that they go to continental veal farms. Between 200,000 and 300,000 calves are exported overseas every year from this country in a live export trade that has met with continuous criticism, both because of the long stressful journeys involved and also because of the conditions found in most continental veal units. At the end of their miserable ordeal in transit, veal calves are kept for the rest of their lives in narrow crates and denied the roughage for which they crave. Instead they are fed on a completely liquid milk diet which helps to produce the pale coloured 'white veal'.

Defending activities at Storrington Priory, Father George Joy said that the farm was run in accordance with Ministry of Agriculture regulations (which is saying nothing), was set up four years ago with the help of a Ministry grant and is run to high standards of hygiene. There is no reason to dispute any of these claims, the objection is that the calves are kept in solitary confinement, denied exercise, companionship or opportunity to behave naturally.

On Sunday 2 October, Lesley Turpin of Worthing organised a demonstration. Approximately 100 people handed out leaflets to the congregation as they turned up for mass. Reaction was mixed. Some members of the congregation took leaflets and handed us money. Others were distinctly aggressive and took the demonstration as an attack on Catholicism, refusing to concede the possibility of their church being involved in cruelty. One or two individuals even told demonstrators that they would pray for them!, whilst another reiterated the view put forward by Father Dominic Kirkham of the Priory, who told a local reporter that 'on moral grounds, I cannot see any objection whatsoever'. He added that 'you only have to look in the scriptures...there is talk of killing the fatted calf for festivals'. Showing a distinct lack of enlightenment, Father Kirkham argued further that Storrington Priory is carrying on an age-old tradition of monasteries' involvement in farming, the only difference being that they were now using modern methods! Further protests are planned.'

*The farm was eventually closed in 1988. Pastor James Thompson subsequently wrote:

"This was despite extensive opposition from animal welfare groups such as Compassion in World Farming who fought a hard legal battle, only to lose it. But, thanks to the heightening public indignation the case aroused, the monks had little option but to terminate the unit."

'Cast out of the Ark' - James Thompson, 1994

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