LETTER: Pope Francis, Please Don’t Endorse Circus Cruelty to Animals


(Featured image credit: NBC News, fair use)

Buenos Aires, 18 June 2016
His Holiness, Pope Francisco
Apostolic Palace 00120 Vatican City – Italy

His Holiness:

With the respect the world has for his investiture, and in my case also as an Apostolic Roman Catholic – with regard to our brothers of the Kingdom, animals, I feel flustered to read the full support that His Holiness gave to circus performers who use wild animals in their performances.

Circus animals cannot experience the freedoms they would find in nature. They are forced to perform for people who strangely find it funny to see bears, lions, tigers, kangaroos, primates, and other species dressed in the clothes of men and women, forced to do balancing acts, jump through hoops of fire, mount bicycles or slip on skids, or contort into positions totally unnatural for their species.

For fifty years I have been fighting for our animal brothers of the Kingdom, without support from my fellow humans. The struggle has been hard, yet advances have been made in the defense of animals of all kinds. In particular, those forced to act against their nature, such as the wild horses used in “jineteadas,” who are ridden with extremely hard and fierce blows all over their bodies, including their heads. ADDA Argentina, the organization I lead, has done immense work to combat abusive treatment of animals. We have managed, for example, to prohibit the entry of circuses that use animals into the city of Buenos Aires. Others have achieved similar victories in other areas.

The words attributed to Pope Francisco, and transmitted by the press, have made a strong impression across the world. It is increasingly common for people today to reject taking animals out of their natural environments, or breeding them in captivity, for entertainment.

If in His Holiness’ approval and congratulations to the people who work in circuses, he had referred to the acrobats, dancers, magicians, and clowns, but not in any way endorsed the subjugation of animals, he would have helped to encourage them in transitioning away from the use of animal acts.

I can approve of circuses as colorful spectacles, fantastic, cheerful, artistic, and fun – but only provided they do not include animals. Animals, unlike human performers, do not have the opportunity to refuse.

I greet Your Holiness with the greatest of my compliments.

Martha Gutiérrez
ADDA Argentina – www.adda.org.ar


To learn more about the Pope’s praise for circus performers, see the Catholic Herald‘s news story:


To urge Pope Francis to speak out against animal cruelty in circuses, sign this Care2 petition:


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  1. http://vatican.com/…/does-the-pope-have-an-email-address
    Pope Francis does not have a direct mailing address but you can contact the Vatican’s press office at .
    Alternately you can mail the pope via usual mail at this address:
    His Holiness, Pope Francis PP.
    00120 Via del Pellegrino
    Citta del Vaticano

  2. “Joy to a dark world”…yet how dark must the world of these animals be, confined in chains or tiny cages for the vast majority of their lives?

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