Pope Francis Is PETA’s Person of the Year

His Holiness' Calls for Humanity to View Animals as God's Creation—Worthy of Protection and Respect, Not Subject to Domination—and More Made Choice Common Sense

For Immediate Release:
December 1, 2015

Contact:
Catie Cryar 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va. – He is the first pope to have taken the name of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of all animals, who said, “Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission—to be of service to them wherever they require it.” And now he is also the first religious leader to be picked as PETA’s Person of the Year. Pope Francis was chosen for asking the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and all other citizens of the world to reject human domination over God’s creation, treat animals with kindness, and respect the environment—something PETA views as a call to turn toward a simple, plant-based diet, given the now well-established role of animal agriculture in climate change.

In his 2015 treatise, Laudato si’, Pope Francis talked about the importance of treating animals with kindness, writing, “Every act of cruelty towards any creature is ‘contrary to human dignity'” and “We are not God. … [W]e must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.”

Pope Francis is also known for his focus on environmental stewardship—a concern that PETA shares through its vegan advocacy. According to the United Nations, a global shift toward vegan eating is necessary for slowing down the most dangerous effects of climate change, including the extinction of wildlife.

“With more than a billion Catholics worldwide, Pope Francis’ animal-friendly teachings have a massive audience,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, an atheist. “His Holiness is PETA’s Person of the Year for spreading the message of kindness to all, regardless of their religion or species.”

Among those whom PETA—whose motto reads, “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way”—has selected as its Person of the Year in the past are Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Simmons, Anjelica Huston, and Ricky Gervais.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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“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