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Pope must now take a stand against blood sports

Published 25/06/2015

While welcoming the Pope's encyclical slamming humanity's irresponsible destruction of our global environment and his forthright warning of what he called a veritable "hell on Earth" resulting from climate change, I hope he will now also take a strong stand on the horrific ill treatment of animals in the name of "sport".

Having taken the name of St Francis of Assisi, he will be acutely aware of the value of kindness and humane treatment of our fellow creatures. St Francis considered the lesser beings his brothers and sisters and was moved to pity by their plight, especially by mankind's deliberate cruelty to them.

In today's world animal cruelty still shames civilization. Bulls are tortured to death for human amusement. Hares are terrorised, serving as live bait in competitions between pairs of salivating bloodthirsty greyhounds. Foxes are hounded until their lungs give out and exhaustion delivers them to the pack to be torn to shreds.

A previous Pope, Pius V, issued a decree in 1567 entitled An Injunction forbidding bullfights and similar sports with wild animals. While that decree has never been revoked, it would be hugely beneficial if Pope Francis was to renew the official papal disapproval of recreational animal cruelty and dispel any doubts as to where the Catholic Church stands in relation to blood sports.

Such a move would greatly advance the cause of animal protection - in line with Pope Pius V's largely forgotten and ignored pronouncement and the shining example of the present Pope's namesake.

I am sure St Francis of Assisi would agree that animals targeted by blood sports are subjected to a man-made "hell on Earth".

A few well-chosen words from Pope Francis would help dispatch these obscenities to their rightful place - the dustbin of history.

John Fitzgerald

(Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports)

Belfast Telegraph

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