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Pontiff asked to abandon practice of releasing peace doves

Dove under attack moments after being released by Pope Francis as a gesture of peace.
Dove under attack moments after being released by Pope Francis as a gesture of peace.AP

When Pope John Paul II attempted to release a dove, on a chilly Jan. 30, 2005, the bird had enough sense to fly back inside. Unfortunately the two birds released by Pope Francis on Sunday ended up prey for a gull and crow who did not view them as harbingers of peace, but “dinner.” It was also not the first time that papal doves were attacked by seagulls upon release.

As a result, animal advocate and ex-tourism minister Michela Brambilla told The AP she was confident that Francis, with his "extraordinary love" for all creatures, would reconsider the practice of releasing doves, especially considering his name sake, St. Francis of Assisi, renowned for his great love of birds and other wild creatures.

""We know that the pontiff said he was sensitive to protecting the environment and the creatures that share it with us. It is clear that traditions of many years reach a moment where they have to be reconsidered," Brambilla told the AP during a phone interview.