Viewpoint: Why the Church should speak out against bullfighting

The holiday season has arrived, and tourists will be among spectators at bullfights, thus helping to ensure the continuation of this violent and cruel activity. The bullfight is a spectacle of butchery and barbarity from beginning to end. The bull is confused, frightened and distressed from the start when forced into the arena. He probably suffered pre-fight torture designed to impair his ability to defend himself. He is stabbed, speared, cut and sliced at throughout the spectacle. At the end, he is dragged out of the ring, perhaps dead, perhaps not. The cruelty is not confined to the bullring. Bullfighters practice on gentle cows in the slaughterhouse.

Horses also suffer greatly in bullfighting.

The bullfight brings the Catholic Church into disrepute, firstly because it is practiced in Catholic countries like Spain and Mexico, where it is promoted, enacted and watched by Catholics. Secondly because it is staged to celebrate feast days of the Virgin Mary and other Saints. Thirdly because priests and bishops turn a blind eye to the business, or may benefit from funds raised. Lastly because the Church has influence in these countries, and therefore has a duty to do all she can to oppose such horrific cruelty.

A picture is worth a thousand words. To understand the horror of the bullfight I urge readers to visit a site that shows what happens, like Humane Society International ( and Stop Bullfighting ( ). A particularly poignant photo is this one shown above which the matador has collapsed in tears at the gentleness of the bull he has been tormenting and the suffering he has caused it.

In his Encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis talks of an ''integral ecology'' and a ''universal communion'', which mean that all things in the world are connected and that we are all responsible for each other and for other creatures and for ''our common home''. He says that ''every act of cruelty towards any creature is contrary to human dignity''. Unfortunately this message may fall on stony ground unless the Pope and the Bishops give clear guidance on what is cruel. Is eating battery eggs cruel? Is the fur trade cruel? Is bullfighting cruel?

The Church has decided to ignore these questions. Even after Laudato Si we have no specific condemnation of cruel and immoral practices that have become normalised and are part of the everyday lives of people, as the three examples above.

Surely something so heinous as the bullfight calls out for condemnation by the Church? I appeal to readers to join me in calling on the Pope to condemn the bullfight. Copy and paste the following sentence, or use your own words, to:- [email protected] Pope Francis, show your concern for creation by condemning the bullfight and directing that your Bishops officially proclaim your condemnation.

Virginia Bell, Catholic Action for Animals

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Tags: bull fight, bullfighting, Catholic Action for Animals, cruelty, Virginia Bell

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