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LA STAMPA (Italy)

Worldcrunch

VATICAN CITY- Pope Francis is his name, and Church watchers all seem to agree that this is a signal that a central them of the new papacy will be caring for the needy - needy humans, that is.

But history also tells us that the inspiration for the Pope's name, St. Francis of Assisi was nearly just as well-known for being a friend to animals. Indeed, in statues and paintings, the Italian saint is often depicted with a bird on his hand. With this in mind, some see a sign that this new Pope could place animal rights protection high on his agenda.

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Thunk via Wikipedia

“This pope could give a different stance on animal welfare,” Fulvio Mamone Capria, president of the Italian league for the protection of birds, told La Stampa. “The choice of name can be a real opportunity to increase the awareness and respect for animals, as well as highlighting the need for protection of the animals who are becoming extinct and highlighting the phenomenons of smuggling and illegal trading on a global level.”

Capria says that his organization has asked the Vatican to firmly oppose all of the traditional festivals where animals are used for games or otherwise exposed to brutality. "It’s also important to block the importation of ivory or other materials used to make crucifixes and other ornaments that put animals at risk,” he added.

President of the League Against Animal Testing, Gianluca Felicetti also weighed in on the topic: “We hope that he is a man of peace, who respects all living things at 360º, and truly embraces the spirit of St. Francis.”

ENPA, the Italian Protection of Animals Entity, collected 20,000 signatures as soon as the new pope was announced to ask that the Church give away all their ivory and ermine objects "which cause the suffering of animals.”

WWF Italia says that the Church can no longer ignore environmental or nature-related issues. The Church believes that God created the entire world, therefore the Church must be involved with these things that God created. A statement on this subject could be important to many who have drifted away from the Church.

The Vatican is no stranger to animals -- many kinds are housed in the “pope’s farm” at Castel Gandolfo, where Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is currently residing. There are about 300 chickens and 25 cows that guarantee that the pope will have fresh eggs and milk every day. In the past there were wild boars (a gift to Paul VI) and gazelles, which were donated to Pope Pius XI by an apostolic delegate from Egypt. 500,000 bees in eight beehives were donated to Benedict XVI which produce almost 300 kilograms of honey each year.

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