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While more and more countries are banning “bullfights”—which is a misnomer, 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 honor” of Catholic saints and on holy days, the Catholic Church can and must help end this abuse by condemning bull torture in the name of religion.
The Catholic Church and Bullfighting
The Church once spoke out against bullfighting. In the 16th century, Pope Pius V, who has since been canonized, proclaimed 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 staging and attending bullfights under penalty of excommunication. Subsequent popes limited the ban to priests and other clergy attending these displays of torture 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 Not a Christian Pursuit
Bullfighting is not a Christian pursuit. It is a bloody spectacle in which injury, pain, and trauma are intentionally inflicted on God’s creatures for entertainment—it involves stabbing them to death. The terrified bulls are subjected to slow, agonizingly painful deaths by being repeatedly harassed, goaded, then stabbed multiple times before they’re killed by a sword to the heart or a dagger to the spinal cord. Some are dragged out of the bullfighting arena while still conscious, their ears cut off as trophies. This ritualized slaughter could not 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 disassociating itself from these vile spectacles.
Sign the Petition
Please sign the petition to Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, urging him to denounce the cruelty of bullfighting spectacles in the Church’s name.