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Action Would Make St. Francis—Patron Saint of
Animals—Proud, Says Group
For Immediate Release:March 20, 2013
Contact:Kaitlynn Kelly 202-483-7382
PETA has sent a letter to newly elected Pope Francis asking
him to pay homage to his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of
animals, and ban factory-farmed meat, eggs, and dairy products from the Vatican
and serve primarily (and eventually all) meat-free meals. In the letter, PETA
points out that St. Francis recognized animals as fellow beings created by the
same God. PETA also reminds Pope Francis that his two immediate predecessors,
Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, strongly condemned the abuse of
"Today's factory farms are a living hell for chickens,
pigs, cows, and other animals," says PETA Director of Communications
Colleen O'Brien, a devout Roman Catholic. "Jesus would be appalled to
witness the meat, egg, and dairy industries' harmful effects on animals and
human health. We urge Pope Francis to make the Vatican the pinnacle of the
stand against these injustices."
In today's industrialized meat and dairy industries,
chickens and turkeys often have their throats cut while they are still
conscious, piglets' tails and testicles are cut off without any painkillers,
fish suffocate or are cut open while still alive on the decks of fishing boats,
and calves are taken away from their mothers within
hours of birth.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA's letter to Pope Francis follows.
His Holiness, Pope Francis IThe Vatican
Congratulations on your
election to pope this week. As a lifelong Catholic, I watched with bated breath
as the historic announcement was made and was thrilled to see you take the
revered name of St. Francis as your papal title, in homage to St. Francis of
Assisi. My colleagues at PETA and I have always been inspired by St. Francis'
lifelong devotion to compassionate service. He is, of course, well known for
his reverence for animals. You expressed this beautifully yesterday when you
said that following our God-given call as "protectors" means
"protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of
Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting
each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live."
That is why I am writing to encourage you to take steps to veganize the Vatican
by making sure that no factory-farmed meat, eggs, and dairy products are served
there. This change would set a wonderful, important, and humane example of true
compassion for all God's creatures.
As you know
well, there is a long precedent for treating animals with respect in the
Catholic faith, from St. Francis to Christ's message in the Sermon on the
Mount: "Blessed are the merciful." In today's factory-farming
industry, in which chickens are crammed together with thousands of others
inside dark sheds reeking of ammonia, fish suffer excruciating decompression
when pulled from the water and separated from their oxygen source, and cows and
pigs are routinely mutilated without painkillers, there is nothing merciful
about the ways in which animals are killed for food. Your last two predecessors
both spoke out strongly against cruelty to animals. The Catechism of the
Catholic Church, as promulgated by Pope John Paul II, states, "Animals
are God's creatures. … Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the
gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri
treated animals. … It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer
or die needlessly." Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI echoed this sentiment,
saying, "[W]e cannot just do whatever we want with [animals]. Animals,
too, are God's creatures …. Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures
[wherein] hens live so packed together that they become
just caricatures of birds … seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship
of mutuality that comes across in the Bible." By banning factory-farmed animal products and having
as many meat-free meals as possible, you will be sending a strong message to
Christ's followers around the world: We must be the hands of our Lord and His
loving heart, feeding the poor and showing compassion and mercy to all God's
creatures. Thank you, Holy Father, for considering this plea.
Colleen O'BrienSenior Director of
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.