Scripture makes it clear that God’s people are meant to care for all His creation, including animals. Bullfighting is a flagrant violation of this responsibility, and PETA Latino has launched a new campaign to give Catholic authorities a wake-up call about the Church’s role in supporting this abuse.

Before the First Meeting of Bullfighting Chaplains and Priests in Zamora, Spain, PETA Latino brought its own message to Rome beneath an image of Jesus protecting a bull from a matador. This compassionate plea was plastered all around the city and even featured on a tourist bus that brought it directly to the Vatican. PETA Vice President for Europe Mimi Bekhechi has issued a strong statement for clergy and laypeople to condemn these cruel spectacles: “The Church teaches compassion for all living beings, yet it’s complicit in the ritual torment and killing of persecuted bulls. PETA is calling on Pope Francis to condemn this vile spectacle, and we urge merciful people everywhere to stay far away from bullrings.”

Bullfights Are Sinful

Tens of thousands of bulls are killed every year in bullfighting festivals that purport to honor Catholic saints and are blessed by members of the clergy. The holiness of saints should never be deceptively conflated with the evil of bullfights, which are nothing short of torture. In a bullfight, assailants on horses stab lances into the bull’s back and neck, twisting and gouging them to ensure significant blood loss. Then, other attackers plunge harpoon-tipped banderillas into his back, which disable him and rack him with severe pain whenever he turns his head, impairing his range of motion. Eventually, when the bull becomes weak from blood loss, a matador enters the ring and attempts to kill him by plunging a sword into his lungs or, if that fails, cutting his spinal cord with a knife, paralyzing him. Sometimes the helpless bull may be forced to endure additional agony as his ears, and sometimes his tail, are cut off and presented to the matador as a trophy before his body is dragged out of the arena.

Bullfighting Has Already Been Condemned by the Vatican

Pope Francis wrote in his 2015 encyclical Laudato si’, “Every act of cruelty towards any creature is ‘contrary to human dignity.’” In the 16th century, Pope Pius V condemned bullfights, which he believed were “cruel and base spectacles of the devil and not of man.” And according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.” Catholic doctrine is clear that animal abuse is never justified, including for entertainment. Yet priests are regularly seen at bullfights, blessing the fighters and sometimes even taking part in the violence. Participation by the clergy in this blood sport is a flagrant transgression of God’s expectations and sends spectators the dangerous message that He condones it.

Speak Up for Bulls: Urge the Vatican to Ban Bullfights

Even if you don’t live in a region that hosts bullfights, you can still speak up for bulls by signing our petition to urge Pope Francis to condemn these horrendous events in the name of the Church as a reminder to all believers that we are called to live lives of kindness, not cruelty.

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