‘Bullfighting Is a Sin’: Jesus Calls For Mercy for Bulls in Striking New PETA Appeal

For Immediate Release:
March 28, 2024

Rachel Hershkovitz 202-483-7382


In time for Easter and ahead of the First Meeting of Bullfighting Chaplains and Priests in Zamora, Spain, a provocative message has appeared throughout Rome and near the holy city: an image of Jesus protecting a bull from a matador with a call for priests to condemn the violent spectacles. The appeal, which is part of PETA’s campaign calling on Pope Francis to cut the Catholic Church’s ties to bullfighting, is plastered on 100 billboards across the city and on the back of a sightseeing bus visiting major tourist attractions, including the Vatican.

Images are available here. Photographer: Stefano Carofei

“The Catholic Church teaches compassion for all sentient beings, yet it’s complicit in the ritual tormenting and killing of persecuted bulls,” says PETA Vice President for Europe Mimi Bekhechi. “PETA is calling on Pope Francis to condemn these vile spectacles, and we urge merciful people everywhere to stay far away from bullrings.”

Every year, tens of thousands of bulls are slaughtered in bullfighting festivals around the world, many of which are held in honor of Catholic saints. During these events, assailants 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 animal 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 his ears or tail are cut off and presented to the matador as a trophy and his body is dragged from the arena.

Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical Laudato si’, “Every 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 bullfights, which he described as “cruel and base spectacles of the devil and not of man” and contrary to “Christian piety and charity.” The doctrine of the Catholic Church states that humans should not “cause animals to suffer or die needlessly,” yet 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”—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 PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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