The means used for raising and slaughtering calves for veal are controversial, leading many to conclude that supporting such an industry by buying and eating veal is at least questionable. The practice of manipulating animals for the sole purpose of obtaining expensive food delicacies is something that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) condemned during an interview in 2002:
[The welfare of animals] is a very serious question. At any rate, we can see that they [animals] are given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them. Animals, too, are God’s creatures . . . Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.
While it cannot be said that it is a sin to eat veal, choosing to avoid veal out of a concern for proper stewardship for God’s creation can be a meritorious act. For more information about the ethics of animal welfare, visit the Web site of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (www.ncrlc.com).