Animals /

Pope Francis Asked to Denounce Bullfighting by Animal Rights Activists

Animal welfare advocates say the Catholic Church has a duty to oppose cruelty to animals

A group of animal rights activists called on Pope Francis to denounce bullfighting during a demonstration outside the Vatican.

The activists, dressed in red capes and fake horns, gathered across from St Peter’s Basilica at the ancient Roman Castel Sant’Angelo fortress. The group hung a banner with the message, “Catholic Church: Silence is Violence! Denounce bullfighting,” per Reuters.

Spain’s traditional bullfights draw international tourists each year. Known as the corrida, bulls are typically killed by a sword-wielding matador in front of crowds of spectators. 

Madrid hosts a series of bullfights between March and October with approximately 60 bullfights annually.

The most important bullfights with the most well-known toreros take place during the Feria de San Isidro. The dates of this event vary from year to year, but most of it usually takes place in May,” according to Madrid Traveller. “Actually, it is the most important event with regards to bullfighting in Madrid. And it is the most prestigious bullfight feria in the world. For a torero, exiting through the Puerta Grande in Madrid after a bullfight is a synonym of fame, prestige and recognition.”

Animal rights groups have repeatedly denounced the tradition.

The bullfight is a spectacle of butchery and barbarity from beginning to end. The bull is confused, frightened and distressed from the start when forced into the arena,” wrote Virginia Bell for Independent Catholic News in 2016. 

Bell continued: 

He probably suffered pre-fight torture designed to impair his ability to defend himself. He is stabbed, speared, cut and sliced at throughout the spectacle. At the end, he is dragged out of the ring, perhaps dead, perhaps not. The cruelty is not confined to the bullring. Bullfighters practice on gentle cows in the slaughterhouse…

The bullfight brings the Catholic Church into disrepute, firstly because it is practiced in Catholic countries like Spain and Mexico, where it is promoted, enacted and watched by Catholics. Secondly because it is staged to celebrate feast days of the Virgin Mary and other Saints. Thirdly because priests and bishops turn a blind eye to the business, or may benefit from funds raised. Lastly because the Church has influence in these countries, and therefore has a duty to do all she can to oppose such horrific cruelty.

In 2018, anti-bullfighting protestors gathered before the statue of the Cristo de los Toreros in Murcia to denounce the Catholic Church for its complicity in the torture of animals.

Pope Francis was previously praised by the Humane Society for his 2015 letter on the environment, in which he called on Catholics to be better stewards of the Earth.

The group also pointed out Pope Francis quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church to underscore that it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die “needlessly.”

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