When 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.
The 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.