Papal Sympathy for Stockbreeders Over Mad Cow Disease

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2001 ( John Paul II expressed his sympathy today for the stockbreeders who are having to cope with the fallout of “mad cow” disease.

When the Holy Father met with thousands of pilgrims during the traditional Wednesday general audience, he honored the memory of St. Anthony the abbot (died 356), whose feast is today, and who is “extremely popular in rural circles as patron of stockbreeders,” the Pope said.

“A time of great difficulty is being experienced in these circles because of the social alarm caused by the spread of a recent syndrome,” the Holy Father exclaimed. “In this situation of unease, I express my spiritual closeness to all honest stockbreeders.”

Italy has become the latest European country to be struck by mad cow frenzy after suffering its first case of the disease since 1994, according to CNN. Consumers across the country shunned butchers´ shops and long lines formed outside fishmongers. Cattle farmers staged a protest at the farm near Brescia where the cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) came from.