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The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and battery cages

Story ID:4723
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Philadelphia Pennsylvania USA
Year:2009
Person:various
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I was fortunate to have lived in Pennsylvania for several years before
returning home to Ohio. I found the landscape there incredibly beautiful.
Sorry, I can't wax eloquently about the rolling hills - the mountains,
the precious lush green spaces - some bedecked with multi-colored flowers-
most notably the rhododendrons. Is it still so lovely? I really don't know.
My memories are from the 1950's to the 1970's and I haven't been there
since.

The people who crossed my path there were special too- warm and friendly.
I enjoyed hearing some of their different expressions like "reding" up the
house, calling "pop" - "soda." We went down to the "basement" - they went
down to the "cellar." These are the only colloquialisms which come to mind
but I'm sure there were others.

This week I found reason to applaud them again-- at least the ones in and
around Philadelphia. HSUS sent out a post recently from their Animals and
Religion section which read "Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia Schools
Go Cage Free." What joy to my eyes. I have hungered for a long time for
some action of compassion from Catholics.

A few months ago a northeastern monastery of monks was exposed by
Peta for using battery cages for their chickens. One Catholic newspaper
defended them and villified Peta. I'm with Peta on this one. I can't believe
that the monks believed that because they were following the prescriptions
of the Egg Industry --their chickens were being cared for in a humane and
compassionate way.

Crowding chickens together in tiny cages for their natural lives, debeaking
them so they won't peck each other to death from frustration, moulting
them -depriving them of food for a period to stimulate egg production -- all
these practices can never be construed as humane by anyone who views
chickens as living beings who have basic needs like our own.

I wish the monks had watched Oprah's segment on Factory Farming versus
Natural Farming. I loved seeing a few trailers on an egg producing farm which
incorporated natural farming techniques. During the day, the chickens in
these trailers spilled out into the bright warm sunshine to preen and peck or
whatever else chickens normally do. And then the farmer said that they went
at night into the trailers by themselves. You would think that a monastery
of monks could have come up with such a humane way to raise egg-laying
chickens.

As a former Catholic teacher, I am less than impressed with a Catholic
syllabus which does not include teaching compassion to animals. For the
past 30 years I have written or spoken to religious, priests, bishops, and
even Pope John Paul II regarding the need to do this. I think their inner
response was - who is she to tell us what we are to teach.

I now have a new respect for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I pray God
that their wonderful example will proliferate. How apropo that this City of
Brotherly Love would make a humane statement for our fellow living
creatures.

On the internet I found a link called "Wegman's Cruelty -Life in a Battery
Cage." In 2004 a team of investigators from Compassionate Consumers
visited Wegman's Egg Farm in Wolcott, NY. They wrote about this experience
and produced a You Tube video. It starts in a very original way: a person is
shown breaking an egg into a skillet for breakfast. Then the film "rewinds" -
tracing the egg back into the cartoon, to the grocery store, to the egg-conveyor
belt in the factory and then to the 750,000 hens crammed in small cages.
There they found among the terrribly crowded hens even corpses of other hens
which were fused to the wire cage floor --some now nothing but bones and
feathers. Living hens were forced to live on the top of these rotting corpses.

I think anyone who will take the time to view this video may never look at an egg
in the same way again. Hopefully, we will be inspired to do something as a result--
write a letter to the USDA or the President to ban battery cages, and/or buy
"compassionate eggs" and/or pray that one day these cages will be outlawed.
The European Union has already banned them. I hope we will have the courage
to follow their compassionate lead.