Animal rights enthusiasts have asked the Pope to stop releasing doves from the window of the Vatican after some doves were attacked after a release by a seagull and a crow on Sunday, January 26.
In an open letter, the National Animal Protection Agency insisted that domesticated birds are easy prey in the wild and urged the Pope to stop releasing the doves into such danger.
The animal group claimed that releasing doves into the wild is “condemning them to certain death.”
“Animals born in captivity, not being wild animals, aren’t able to recognize predators as such and are thus incapable of fleeing from possible dangerous situations,” the group said.
Several animal activist groups are launching a petition to urge the Pope to end the practice.
The first Pope to release doves was Pope John Paul II who did so to serve as a symbol of peace as the Cold War wound down.
But now the activists want the Church to end the tradition.
“It is clear that traditions of many years reach a moment where they have to be reconsidered,” Pro-animal advocate Michela Brambilla told The AP.
The bird attack occurred as the Pope wrapped up the Vatican’s annual “Caravan of Peace” event. On Sunday, assisted in the release of the doves by two children, Pope Francis released the birds but as the doves flew out from the window of the Apostolic Palace they were set upon by two wild birds.
The children, a boy and a girl, had differing reactions to the sudden attacks on their doves. The boy seemed saddened prompting the Pope to offer him sympathy. But the girl laughed at the incident.
Both doves eventually seem to have escaped death at the hands of the marauding seagull and crow.