Newly elected Pope Francis is already making clear that his focus will be to embrace the disadvantaged. He chose his papal title in homage to St. Francis of Assisi, a renowned advocate for the poor and the patron saint of animals and the environment. PETA has written to His Holiness to congratulate him and to offer a couple of simple ways that he can follow in St. Francis’ footsteps as a champion for animals. Because of the unholy abuse on factory farms and in slaughterhouses, we’ve asked Pope Francis to ensure that no factory-farmed meat, eggs, or dairy products are served at the Vatican and to offer as many meat-free meals as possible.
Previous popes have expressed concern for animals and their well-being. Pope John Paul II was a noted animal advocate who declared that animals are “as near to God as men are.” He also maintained that animals “possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren.” Pope Francis’ predecessor Pope Benedict XVI felt that “[a]nimals, too, are God’s creatures. … [T]his degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.”
God clearly instructs his followers to “love one another” (John 13:34), “be merciful” (Luke 6:36), and not to harm one another (Isaiah 11:9).
Hopefully, Pope Francis will continue to guide Catholics down the compassionate path that his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, set out on so many years ago.