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Catholic charity calls for an end to bullfighting


David Pineda Svenske | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 02/07/22

Catholics have been working to end the spectacle of fighting animals since the 16th century.

A Catholic charity is launching a new campaign aimed at ending the practice of bullfighting. Catholic Concern for Animals (CCA), a non-profit organization, is raising awareness of what they describe as a “barbaric spectacle.”

Independent Catholic reports that the new campaign will begin in 2022 and will focus on traditionally Catholic countries. CAA’s CEO, Chris Fegan, explained the goals of the new initiative: 

“This campaign will involve working in all those countries we identify as complicit in this appalling ‘spectacle’ to educate on the barbarity of the bullfight. We will work with all interested groups and individuals to try and bring an end to this abhorrent activity.”

Popes in support

The Catholic arguments against bullfighting can be traced back to the 16th century with Pope St. Pius V, who also championed the CCA’s cause. On its website, CCA notes that he banned the practice among the faithful, likening participants to “devils rather than men.” Pius went so far as to refuse a Christian burial to anyone who died while fighting a bull or any other animal for sport.

This nearly 500-year-old argument is still held by the modern papacy. In his environmental encyclical, ‘Laudato Si’, Pope Francis touched upon the issue. Pope Francis wrote in 2015: 

‘Clearly the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism, unconcerned for other creatures’ (LS:68), that ‘every act of cruelty towards any creature is “contrary to human dignity”’ (LS: 92) and that ‘we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures’ (LS: 67).

Modern bullfighting

Fighting animals for sport is not as prevalent as it once was, but it is still popular in some parts of the world. In Peru, a condor is tied to the top of the bull so that the bird will sink its claws into it and enrage it further. In the Philippines, organized horse-fighting is a popular diversion for crowds of fans.

The new campaign questions why bullfighting is so prevalent in majority Catholic countries while the Vatican’s 16th-century ban is technically still in place. The CCA notes that there are still thousands of bulls subjected to this abuse each year around the world.

There are, however, many countries that have already banded around the CCA’s mission. According to their records, bullfighting is illegal in Argentina, Cuba, Canada, Denmark, Italy and the UK. There are about 100 towns in Spain that have outlawed the “sport.”Still, it remains protected under Spanish law as part of the country’s “cultural heritage.”

Click here to read more about the CCA’s new campaign to end bullfighting.

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