Breaking: Animal Allies Crash Pope’s Evening Prayer, Beg Him to Condemn Bullfights

For Immediate Release:
January 25, 2024

Moira Colley 202-483-7382


This evening, PETA U.K. activists wearing T-shirts reading “Stop Blessing Corridas” disrupted a prayer service at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls attended by Pope Francis, pleading with His Holiness to cut the Catholic Church’s ties with bullfighting and condemn the despicable blood sport.

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls disruption

Footage of the action is available here.

“The Bible asks us to show mercy to all of God’s creations, yet bulls are being tormented, stabbed, and slaughtered in front of jeering crowds by those blessed by Catholic priests,” says PETA Vice President for the UK and Europe Mimi Bekhechi. “PETA is calling on Pope Francis to condemn the vile bullfighting industry and cut the church’s ties with these bloody, merciless spectacles.”

Every year, tens of thousands of bulls are tormented and slaughtered in bullfighting festivals around the world, many of which are held in honor of Catholic saints. During these events, men on horses drive lances into a bull’s back and neck before others plunge banderillas into his back, inflicting acute pain whenever he turns his head and impairing his range of motion. Eventually, when the bull becomes weak from blood loss, a matador appears and attempts to kill the bull by plunging a sword into his lungs or, if that fails, cutting his spinal cord with a knife. The bull may be paralyzed but still conscious as the matador cuts off his ears or tail as a trophy and his body is dragged from the arena.

Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical Laudato Si’ that “[e]very act of cruelty towards any creature is ‘contrary to human dignity,’” and as far back as the 16th century, Pope Pius V—who has since been canonized—banned bullfighting, which he described as “cruel and base spectacles of the devil and not of man” and contrary to “Christian piety and charity.” The ban forbids priests and other clergy from attending bullfights and barred the events from taking place on religious holidays. However, the Church is failing to enforce the ban, and Catholic priests often officiate at religious ceremonies in bullrings and minister to bullfighters in arena chapels. Some even attack bulls in arenas while dressed in a cassock.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

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