Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Green
  3. Green Living

Petitions fly fast, animal rights activits tell Pope Francis no more peace doves

See also

Last week, tens of thousands of onlookers watched in horror as Pope Francis released two peace doves from his window at the Vatican - only to have them almost torn apart immediately by two other birds, a seagull and a crow.

Eventually both doves flew off, seemingly uninjured, to the relief of every spectator.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time this has happened. Last year, another pair of doves was attacked by a lone seagull, who pecked the confused doves mercilessly until they fled back into the shelter of the building.

As gentle, non-aggressive birds, doves have become a symbol of peace. Sadly, that also makes them an easy target. This is only made worse by their white coloring and inability to spot predators and flee.

The National Animal Protection Agency published an open letter Monday reminding Francis that domesticated doves are easy prey for predators like gulls:

“Gulls nest atop the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, far from natural seaside habitats, scavenging for garbage in Rome.” The agency said freeing doves in Rome is like “condemning them to certain death.”

There are better ways to celebrate peace than to force domesticated birds to suddenly brave the dangers of a world they've never known. A petition has been created on Care2 regarding this incident, and signatures were coming in fast. As of this article, less than 10 signatures were needed to complete the petition.

"It was very disturbing to see those peace doves getting attacked, said petition creator Chris Wolverton. "Nobody saw this dove release as a symbol of peace. It was a scene of violence, which is the opposite of peace. I hope that Pope Francis realizes this and will find alternative methods to share his peace message. There are many other symbols he could use like paper cranes, white poppy flowers, and the peace sign, to name a few. Putting animals in danger is not a sensible way to promote peace."

Pro-animal advocate and ex-tourism minister Michela Brambilla told The AP she was confident that Pope Francis, with his "extraordinary love" for all creatures, would reconsider. At his election last year, he became the first pontiff to choose the name of St. Francis of Assisi, famed for his love for birds and other creatures of the wild.

"It is clear that traditions of many years reach a moment where they have to be reconsidered," Ms Brambilla said in a telephone interview.

(Amanda Carlucci has her finger on the pulse of the green movement. Stay up to date on the latest in green activism. You CAN make a difference. Be a part of the movement, and click here to subscribe. It's anonymous and free!)