PETA Wants Cardinal Dolan to Stop Ignoring Appeals to Help God’s Creatures

For Immediate Release:
November 15, 2022

Robin Goist 202-483-7382

New York – Will the third time be the charm? In its latest appeal for mercy for animals, this one involving the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, this morning PETA’s Christian outreach division, LAMBS (“Least Among My Brothers and Sisters” from Matthew 25:40), sent a letter to Archbishop of New York Timothy Cardinal Dolan, urging him to make this the last year he endorses “living Nativity“ scenes by “blessing” the scared and confused animals who are transported to be used in the displays. The cardinal has previously refused PETA’s pleas to help animals for Lent and Good Friday, but the group is hoping—and praying—that the third time will be the charm.

Animals used in Nativity displays are denied every comfort and joy: Camels, donkeys, lambs, and others face a constant barrage of activity and unwanted touches and are often tethered and made to stand on hard surfaces for hours. Their handlers commonly threaten and intimidate them and may even use abusive tools to make them obey commands out of fear of physical punishment. Terrified animals have tried to flee and been hit by cars, and unpredictable, easily stressed camels especially pose a danger to the public. With virtually no opportunity for mental stimulation or proper exercise, camels used for displays may even develop abnormal and self-destructive behavior, such as pacing, swaying, or bar-biting.

“The use of animals in Nativities began in times when we were far less enlightened about who animals are, what makes them tick, and what they think and feel,” writes PETA Foundation Faith Outreach and Engagement Campaign Coordinator Candice Kelsey. “We know now that it’s highly stressful and confusing for animals to be transported, placed into unfamiliar surroundings, and made to endure large crowds, music, and loud noises.”

LAMBS’ letter points out that historically, there were no camels, donkeys, or any other animals near the manger and that faux-animal props and animatronics would be excellent options for those partial to the displays. Churches can also honor the holy season and spread goodwill to animals by urging practitioners to ditch meat, eggs, and dairy; hosting vegan potlucks; replacing leather furniture and prayer books with cow-friendly versions; using candles made without tallow, paraffin, or beeswax; and encouraging everyone to adopt from animal shelters instead of supporting the cruel pet trade.

LAMBS opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. Its motto, a variation of PETA’s, is “Animals are not ours. They’re God’s.” For more information, please visit or follow PETA on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind