Pope’s fur faux pas

Pope Benedict's Ermine Hat.jpgWhen Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Benedict XVI, one of the first–and perhaps more surprising, given its liberal bent–endorsers of the choice was PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA has never been shy about invoking Christianity in its cause (an ad campaign last year portrayed Jesus as a vegetarian at a Last Supper featuring the likes of k.d.lang and Paul McCartney).
But Ratzinger’s statements about animals (plus his love of felines) were especially welcome to PETA, as the group notes in a message, and his subsequent statements on the care of creation have pleased animals rights fans and prompted the creation of a pope-themed anti-factory farming ad.
Now, however, the pontiff’s passion for old-fashioned papal wear, most notably ermine-trimmed vestments like the camauro at right, have prompted the Italian Association for the Defence of Animals and the Environment (AIDAA) to launch an online petition asking Benedict to live up to his words and give the fur a rest.
According to this AFP story, Lorenzo Croce, chairman of the AIDAA, denied being provocative or wanting to make an anti-religious statement:


“We just want to ask him in a message of love and peace to give a strong signal towards the protection of animals and the environment through a small but very significant personal sacrifice,” Croce told the Italian news agency ANSA.
Ermine.jpgThe association has created a website to accept signatures and Croce wants to present the petition to the pope in September.

Here is one of the pope’s better-known statements, from a 2002 interview about the proper treatment of animals:


“That is a very serious question. At any rate, we can see that they are given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them. Animals, too, are God’s creatures…Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.”

HT: I neglected to give original credit where credit is due, to the RNS blog.

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Bruce Friedrich

posted July 29, 2008 at 11:18 am

The Pope is not perfect–who is? But he’s a lot better than any previous Pope, if public statements are indicative, on animal issues. As the Cardinal in charge of Catholic doctorine, he oversaw the rewrite of the Catechism, which become much stronger on animal issues. If causing animals to suffer needlessly were taken seriously and to its logical conclusion, the Church would oppose eating (or wearing) animals, since neither is necessary and both cause great suffering. At this point, we don’t have to change Church doctorine; we just have to convince the Church to live up to its own standards.

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Charles Cosimano

posted July 29, 2008 at 11:49 am

Does anyone besides its members even care what PETA says about anything?

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posted July 29, 2008 at 12:11 pm

I like animals as much as the next guy, but I think PETA definitely needs to give it a break and step back a little. They rate pretty high on my “annoying people who think highly of themselves” scale.

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posted July 30, 2008 at 8:49 am

Charles, does anyone at all even care about what you say about anything?
It often seems to me like most people don’t care about anything but themselves and those who do care about others suffer nothing but ridicule for it.

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slaney black

posted July 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm

He should use a strip of wooly sheepskin instead. More appropriate for a shepherd anyway.

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Franklin Jennings

posted August 14, 2008 at 2:02 pm

So if he quits wearing it, will that long-dead ermine be resurrected?
And you can eat and wear animals without them suffering at all. It does mean abandoning modern corporate farming techniques, but it isn’t all that hard.
(I can see why they call this geezer’s blog “Pontifications” now though!)

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Jericho Morton

posted July 17, 2009 at 9:56 am

He is a Santapaed.

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