Rights for Chickens but Not for Monks


Well, I was looking for something to blog about, and sure enough I found it. On the front page of this week’s Catholic Miscellany, my diocesan newspaper, I found this story:

The monks at Mepkin Abbey [Moncks Corner, SC] have started the search for a new way to support themselves once their popular egg production business comes to an end.

In December the abbey announced it would begin phasing out the 56 year-old business, citing pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals over treatment of chickens as one of the reasons. Public protests and a threatened boycott by PETA that started in summer 2007 put unwanted pressure on the Trappist monks and interfered with their quiet life of prayer and work.

The story goes on to point out that “Sales averaging nine million eggs a year have generated around $140,000, which is about 60 percent of the abbey’s annual income, according to figures released by Abbot Stan Gumula.”

So a monastery that has supported itself for close to 60 years by selling eggs now has to sacrifice 60 percent of its annual income to satisfy a bunch of animal-rights wackos who espouse opinions contrary to Catholic teaching, historical fact, and plain common sense?

PETA, you may be aware, is that fine, upstanding bunch of Scripture scholars who promote the idea that Jesus was a vegetarian. I’m distressed to see that one of the ecumenical team of clergymen employed to promote this view is Father John Dear, a Jesuit. Father Dear (no pun intended) and his cohorts have to employ some verbal tap-dancing to get around the fact that the only miracle recorded in all four gospels involves Jesus feeding more than 5,000 people–with fish. The whole idea that the Last Supper was a Passover meal, which would have involved eating lamb, poses similar difficulties. They insist that Jesus didn’t eat the Passover lamb, but they provide no persuasive evidence for this. They discount the accounts of post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus which specifically state that Jesus ate fish in the disciples’ presence. Their reason? “Most biblical scholars” or “many biblical scholars” don’t believe these events really took place. It’s enough to make you think that the purpose of a “biblical scholar” these days is to make you believe that nothing in the Bible actually happened.

When I read about PETA and similar animal rights groups, I’m reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s observation about the maniac who “is in the clean and well-lit prison of one idea: he is sharpened to one painful point. He is without healthy hesitation and healthy complexity.” PETA’s one idea, that they carry to maniacal extremes is that animals should be treated compassionately–according to their standard of compassion–and they’re willing to oppose anybody who doesn’t live up to that standard.

No sane, humane person is in favor of cruelty to animals. If PETA had legitimate concerns about the treatment of the chickens, did PETA representatives even attempt to meet with representatives of the abbey to discuss the issue? I don’t get that impression. Someone from PETA faxed the abbot (They couldn’t even bother to send him a letter?) in February 2007. The promotional materials PETA distributed openly accuse the abbey of lying to the press and public about its treatment of the chickens. It sounds as if PETA threatened protests and boycotts almost immediately.

Well, I hope they’re happy. They got what they wanted. But if you ask me, it’s PETA, not the monks who have “egg on their face” this time.

One thought on “Rights for Chickens but Not for Monks

  1. I would like to know more as to what PETA objected to.But if the abbey kept chickens in cages, in a factory farm setting, then they should thank PETA for making them stop their sin against God’s creation.I believe that keeping chickens stacked up in cages where they barely have room to turn around, and all them can do is eat and wait, and wait, and wait is horrible. If monks, of all people can commit such cruelty, and not know that there is anything wrong, then they need some wake-up call about treating God’s creatures with respect.

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