MEDIA RELEASE: Interfaith Leaders Call On Pope to Consider Mercy for Animals in Oct. 4 Encyclical
VATICAN CITY (Sept. 21, 2023) — In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition and Plant Based Treaty sent a letter expressing their hope that Pope Francis includes compassionate treatment of animals who suffer in animal agriculture in his upcoming ecological encyclical on October 4.
The letter is from over 50 people and faith based organizations who seek to improve human attitudes towards animals and nature for the benefit of all life on Earth. They expect the follow-up to the Encyclical Laudato Si’, which already teaches humanity about the intrinsic value of all God’s creatures, to define human interaction with animals and nature as the root cause of the climate and ecological emergencies facing our world.
Pope Francis says in the Laudato Si' Encyclical, paragraph 221: "We read in the Gospel that Jesus says of the birds of the air that ‘not one of them is forgotten before God.’ How then can we possibly mistreat them or cause them harm?" Yet billions of hens are treated horrifically in factory farms each year.
The signatories caution that even if we end fossil fuel extraction today, greenhouse gas emissions from the food system alone would see global temperature rise above 1.5 C warming. Plant-based diets, which result in 75% less climate-heating food emissions, water pollution, and land use than diets which contain 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of meat per day, must form part of this new vision. Plant-based diets can also cut the destruction of wildlife by 66% and water use by 54%. There cannot be integral ecology without repairing our relationship with animals and nature, say the undersigned.
The letter states:
We must end our violence to animals and stop killing them for food everywhere plant based options are possible and readily available. We must not cause animals to suffer and die for our entertainment, useless scientific experiments, sports such as hunting and fishing, or any other way. We are called to show mercy, compassion and life-giving care to all God’s creation.
We need to take an unusually significant step in the evolution of our morality and start to see animals and nature as their Creator sees them. This is the only way we can fulfill the responsibility ordered from us, humans’ duty of stewardship to ensure that all life flourishes. Farmed animals make up 62% of the world’s mammal biomass; humans account for 34%; and wild mammals are just 4%. We need to address this imbalance and reconnect the faith with concern for God's creatures. Like the early saints who lived in friendship with animals and all nature, we also need to live at peace with it. Only then can we realistically implement papal teachings on care for our Common Home.
“Our Interfaith Vegan Coalition is heartened by Pope Francis’ concern for our environment and hopes that his upcoming Encyclical will include mercy for animals who suffer on factory farms that pollute our planet,” says Lisa Levinson, Interfaith Vegan Coalition Co-founder and Campaigns Director for In Defense of Animals.
Nicola Harris, Communications Director for Plant Based Treaty, says, “With the news that six out of nine planetary boundaries have been breached, risking the stability of Earth, the need for a plant-based food system is more urgent than ever.”
Barbara Niedzwiedzka, of Christians for Animals - Poland, says, ”In the words of Albert Schweitzer, ‘Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living beings, humanity will not find peace.’ I would add that the compassionate and merciful attitude of Jesus should not be applied only to humans, but to all who are weaker and vulnerable. We should be to other creatures what Christ is to us. And, if we do not quickly change our attitude towards other inhabitants of the Earth, if we do not stop exploiting them callously and cruelly, we will not hinder the climate and environmental catastrophe. We will all perish, and God will judge us. Around the Judge's throne will sit... animals.”
Virginia Bell of Catholic Action for Animals, says, “If we accept St Francis of Assisi's exhortation, ‘Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission: to be of service to them whenever they require it,’ then we must treat any animal in need as our neighbor.”
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 43 member organizations, 4 allied organizations, and one partner organization Animal Interfaith Alliance comprising 17 organizations, all working in harmony for a common cause.
As a companion to the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement, the Plant Based Treaty aims to halt the widespread degradation of critical ecosystems caused by animal agriculture, to promote a shift to more healthy, sustainable plant-based diets and to actively reverse damage done to planetary functions, ecosystem services and biodiversity.
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Interfaith Vegan Coalition and Plant Based Treaty Letter to Pope Francis:
Interfaith Vegan Coalition Signatories:
Animal Interfaith Alliance
A Prayer for Compassion Film
American Vegan Society
Animals' Prayer Flag Project
Catholic Action for Animals
Christian Animal Rights Association
Christian Vegetarian Association
Christians for Animals (Poland)
Circle of Compassion
Committee of Consciousness
Concern for Helping Animals in Israel
Creation Care Church
Dharma Voices for Animals
Faith Action for Animals
Fraternitè pour le Respect Animal (France)
God’s Creatures Ministry
In Defense of Animals
Interfaith Vegan Alliance
Karuna Music and Art
Main Street Vegan Academy
Million Vegan Grandmothers
One Love Animal Connection Ministry
Quaker Animal Kinship
Seeds to Inspire Foundation
Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy
St. Francis Alliance
The Black Vegan Experience
The Spiritual Forum
The Vegan Museum
Together in Creation
United Poultry Concerns
Vegan World 2026
World Vegan Assembly
- In Defense of Animals, Interfaith Vegan Coalition co-founder, Lisa Levinson, [email protected], 215-620-2130
- Plant Based Treaty, Plant Based Treaty Global Coordinator, Anita Krajnc, [email protected], +1 416-825-6080 and Communications Director, Nicola Harris, [email protected], +44 7597514343
- Christians for Animals - Poland, Prof. Barbara Niedzwiedzka, [email protected], +48 608 376 667
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization 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 California, India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org
The Interfaith Vegan Coalition (IVC) helps animal activists and spiritual leaders bring vegan values to spiritual, ethical, and religious communities. The IVC provides tools to help all faith and secular wisdom traditions practice the ideals of nonviolence, lovingkindness, and harmlessness toward all animals. www.interfaithvegancoalition.org
The Plant-Based Treaty is a grassroots initiative calling upon national governments to negotiate a landmark international treaty — the first of its kind to put food systems at the heart of combating the climate crisis. www.plantbasedtreaty.org
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