Urge Pope Francis to Condemn Bull Torture

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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.

Your Holiness Pope Francis: Denounce Bull Torture


Your Holiness,

We urge you to denounce bullfighting as a cruel spectacle, not a Christian pursuit, as Pope Pius V did before you. God’s creations should not be subjected to prolonged suffering and stabbed to death in the name of Catholic saints and amid holy Christian celebrations, and members of the Catholic clergy should not support the torture of 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 compassion.

Bullfighting is a ritualized execution that involves repeatedly goading and stabbing a bull until he is weakened and defenseless. A matador then plunges 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 is 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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