Urge Pope Francis to Condemn Bull Torture

While more and more countries are banning bull “fights” – misleadingly named because the unwilling bull stands no chance of coming out alive – tens of thousands of bulls are still being tormented and violently killed in bullrings every year. Because these gruesome spectacles are often held in honour of Catholic saints or during holy Christian celebrations, the Catholic Church can – and must – help end this animal abuse by publicly condemning bull torture in the name of religion.

The Catholic Church and ‘Bullfighting’

The Church has previously spoken out against bullfighting: as long ago as the 16th century, Pope Pius V, who has since been canonised, believed that deliberately goading and torturing bulls could not be considered “Christian piety and charity” and condemned the events as “cruel and base spectacles of the devil and not of man”. He issued a papal bull – an official proclamation – in 1567 that banned the staging and attending of bullfights under penalty of excommunication. Later popes limited the ban to priests and other clergy attending bullfights and precluded such events from taking place on religious holidays.

However, although this papal bull is technically still in force today, the Catholic Church’s silence on the torture and killing of bulls is propping up extreme cruelty to animals in the name of Catholic saints. Some bull torture events are even held on Easter – the most important holy day on the Christian calendar. Many chapels stand adjacent to bullfighting arenas where these “celebrations” take place, and Roman Catholic priests often serve as official chaplains for bullfighters.

Bull Torture Is Unchristian

“Bullfighting” is an unchristian, bloody spectacle that involves wilfully and unnecessarily inflicting pain and trauma on God’s creatures. The bulls – unsure of what is happening and attempting to size it up and to flee – are subjected to a prolonged, agonising death by being repeatedly stabbed before they are killed by a sword thrust into the heart or a dagger to the spinal cord. This ritualised slaughter couldn’t be further removed from Christ’s teachings of love and mercy for all living, feeling beings. As a custodian of the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church must take a stand against this violence by publicly disassociating itself from these vile spectacles.

Sign the Petition

Please sign the petition to Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, urging him to publicly denounce the cruelty of bullfighting spectacles in the Church’s name.

Your Holiness Pope Francis: Denounce Bull Torture

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Most Holy Father:

We urge you to denounce bullfighting as a cruel and unchristian spectacle, as Pope Pius V did before you. God’s creations shouldn’t be subjected to prolonged suffering and stabbed to death in the name of Catholic saints or during holy Christian celebrations, and members of the Catholic clergy shouldn’t support torture to animals in the name of religion.

As declared in the 2015 Laudato si’, “Every act of cruelty towards any creature is ‘contrary to human dignity’.” Yet, the Catholic Church’s silence and failure to act with regard to bull torture makes a mockery of Christ’s teachings of kindness and compassion.

Bullfighting is a ritualised execution, which involves repeatedly goading and stabbing a bull until he is weakened and defenceless. A matador will then plunge a sword into the animal’s heart or lungs. It can take many attempts to kill a bull this way, and if the matador fails, a knife will be used to sever the spinal cord. The bull’s ears or tail may even be cut off and kept as a trophy.

Holy Father, before more animals are tortured in this way, please communicate to members of the clergy and the more than 1 billion Catholics around the world that bullfighting is contrary to the values of the Roman Catholic faith and that any association with this grotesquely cruel spectacle in God’s name must cease immediately.


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