MEDIA RELEASE: Christian Organizations Urge Pope to Renounce Animal Circuses
VATICAN CITY (March 9, 2023) — Catholic Concern for Animals has mounted the Vatican Circus Campaign urging the Catholic Church to rescind its support of circuses that feature animal exploitation. The campaign has been launched in response to the Vatican’s recent event at the Rony Roller Circus in Rome. Papal Almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski organized and even performed at the event on February 11. The almoner lay down, and an elephant was made to walk over him as part of the performance. Many people are unaware that torturous abuse is required to make elephants and other wild animals perform.
“Catholic Concern for Animals has been inundated with correspondence from individuals and organizations expressing their outrage and deep sorrow in regard to the Vatican’s involvement with circuses that use animals, and we share these views,” said Chris Fegan, Chief Executive of Catholic Concern for Animals. “My email box has been full on this subject in the last few weeks. It is totally unacceptable for animals to be used in circuses in the year 2023. We believe it is also contrary to the writing of His Holiness in the Encyclical Laudato Si’ and have written to Pope Francis to let him know our views. We welcome support from individuals and organizations throughout the world with this campaign.”
Christian and Catholic members of In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition have contributed and signed on to Catholic Concern for Animals’ moving open letter to Pope Francis. The letter describes the egregious conditions elephants endure in the circus and implores the Vatican to update its policy to reflect the pope’s progressive and compassionate values toward animals and the environment.
The letter states, “As Christians from around the world who care about animals, and who recognize that God’s love of creation includes the love of animals, we utterly condemn the use of animals for entertainment in such circuses.”
“Our Christian and Catholic members are concerned and dismayed by the Vatican’s continued public support of animal-based circuses” said Lisa Levinson, of In Defense of Animals and co-founder of the Interfaith Vegan Coalition. “Many well-known circuses, including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Circus Vargas, have transitioned away from exploiting wild animals for human entertainment. We stand behind Catholic Concern for Animals’ timely campaign, which invites the Vatican to practice compassion in action by aligning its animal ideals with its current policies. Our members urge the Vatican to end its support of wild animal circus performances which are always achieved through violence.”
In circuses, baby elephants are forcefully removed from their mothers to make them obedient. Then they are confined on a concrete floor, tied to a bar, and their limbs are immobilized with ropes and chains. The ropes used to restrain the baby elephants often are tied so tightly around their legs that the animals can incur deep and painful lesions. When the crying from the tortured baby elephant quiets down, their will is said to have been broken. Then the traumatized individual is ready for brutal circus training.
At circuses, elephants are trained to perform tricks through beatings, electric shocks, or sharply spiked implements such as bullhooks. Elephants submit to humans and perform circus tricks through fear of punishment. They are subject to near-constant confinement and stressful transport, which causes severe mental and physical health problems.
“Elephants are sensitive, family-oriented, and highly intelligent animals who do not cope with life in the circus,” said Courtney Scott, Elephant Consultant for In Defense of Animals. “There are now humane human-powered circuses, with talented and artistic acrobats and performers. A circus in Germany uses an array of stunning holograms to give their audiences the excitement and thrill of being close to majestic animals, including elephants. We encourage Pope Francis to align with the ideals of his namesake, St. Francis, and support compassionate entertainment that honors God’s beloved creatures instead of degrading them.”
Catholic Concern for Animals is planning to send an emissary to the Vatican to adjure the pope on behalf of the animals.
While the world awaits a papal response, faith-based organizations and members of the public are encouraged to sign Catholic Concern for Animals’ petition urging the Vatican to end its support of animal-based circuses.
Join In Defense of Animals in urging Carson & Barnes Circus to retire its beaten and chained elephants to a sanctuary and shut down all its animal acts.
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Open Letter Signatories: Christian and Catholic Organizations
- Animal Interfaith Alliance
- Catholic Action for Animals
- Catholic Concern for Animals
- Christian Animal Rights Association
- Christians for Animals
- Climate Healers
- Compassion Consortium
- Creation Care Church
- Fraternitè pour le Respect Animal
- Interfaith Vegan Coalition
- PETA LAMBS
In Defense of Animals started the Interfaith Vegan Coalition to help animal activists and spiritual leaders bring vegan values to spiritual, ethical, and religious communities. The coalition provides faith-based tools to help all faith and secular wisdom traditions practice the ideals of nonviolence, lovingkindness, and harmlessness toward all animals. The coalition is composed of 39 member organizations, 4 allied organizations, and one partner organization Animal Interfaith Alliance comprising 17 organizations, all working in harmony for a common cause.
In Defense of Animals, Interfaith Vegan Coalition, Lisa Levinson, email@example.com, (215) 620-2130
Catholic Concern for Animals, Chris Fegan, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 7817 730472
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org/sustainableactivism
The Interfaith Vegan Coalition helps animal activists and spiritual leaders bring vegan values to spiritual, ethical, and religious communities. The coalition provides tools to help all faith and secular wisdom traditions practice the ideals of nonviolence, lovingkindness, and harmlessness toward all animals. www.interfaithvegancoalition.org
Catholic Concern for Animals advances Christian respect and responsibility for the animal creation with special reference to Catholic teaching and beliefs through the production of its magazine, The Ark, and through its website and social media outreach. www.catholic-animals.com
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