Animal rights activists from PETA UK wearing T-shirts reading, “Stop Blessing Corridas” disrupted a prayer service at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, Italy, attended by Pope Francis. The protestors wanted to ask the Pope to cut the Catholic Church’s ties with bullfighting and condemn the despicable blood sport, something he has not done yet despite the request of many anti-bullfighting Catholics, but security removed them before they could reach him.
Bullfighting often happens in Catholic countries and bullfighting festivals are organised during patron saint festivities, often with the presence of priests blessing the cruel spectacles where bulls are tortured to death for 20 minutes or so.
Mimi Bekhechi, PETA Vice President for the UK and Europe, said, “The Bible asks us to show mercy to all of God’s creations, yet bulls are being tormented, stabbed, and slaughtered in front of jeering crowds in bullfights blessed by Catholic priests. PETA is calling on Pope Francis to condemn the vile bullfighting industry and cut the church’s ties with these bloody, merciless spectacles.”
In the 16th century, Pope Pius V (now an official saint) banned bullfighting, which he described as “cruel and base spectacles of the devil and not of man” and contrary to “Christian piety and charity.” The ban forbids priests and other clergy from attending bullfights and bars the events from taking place on religious holidays. However, despite these types of papal edicts cannot be reversed, the Church is failing to enforce the ban and Catholic priests often officiate at religious ceremonies in bullrings and minister to bullfighters in arena chapels.
PETA has created a petition urging Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, to denounce the cruelty of bullfighting spectacles in the Church’s name. On 28th July 2023, animal rights activists of the organisations PETA, Animalisti Italia, and Ente Nazionale Protezione Animale, staged a publicity stunt near the Vatican City, dressed in red capes and fake horns to urge the Catholic Pope Francis to denounce the barbaric practice of bullfighting. In 2019, the organization Million Dollar Vegan (now called Gen V) urged him to give up meat for Lent, but he Also, refused.