Coooo… coooo…. AIYEEEEEEE!

Not all liberals are happy.

You can’t make up a headline like this.

Pro-animal groups appeal to pope over dove attack

ROME — Animal rights groups on Monday appealed to Pope Francis to end the practice of releasing doves from a Vatican window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, a day after a pair of the peace symbols were attacked by a seagull and crow while a crowd including thousands of children watched below.

The National Animal Protection Agency published an open letter Monday reminding Francis that domesticated doves are easy prey for predators like gulls.  [I say… KILL THE GULLS.  The damned flying vermin kept me awake for years in Rome. Rats with wings.]

Gulls nest atop the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, near the Tiber River, and scavenge for garbage in Rome. The animal protection agency, known as ENPA, said freeing doves in Rome is like “condemning them to certain death.”  [Death to gulls.]

“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,” ENPA said, adding it was launching a signature petition to garner the pope’s attention.

An umbrella group of animal rights advocates, the Italian Federation of Animal and Environment Rights Associations, carried a text of the letter on its website.

The two doves tossed into the air by two children flanking the pope at an open window of the Apostolic Palace Sunday didn’t go far, landing at first on ledges of the building. In separate dives, first a seagull and then a large black grow swept down and grabbed a dove by the tail. Feathers fluttered over the square but the doves shook off their attackers. It wasn’t clear what then happened to the birds.

The Vatican earlier Monday didn’t reply to an AP query about whether it might abandon the practice.

Pope John Paul II began the dove releases as a symbol of peace. Since then, children from an Italian Catholic group have been invited to join popes at the window overlooking the square for the dove release, which takes place the last Sunday in January. Sunday wasn’t the first time a dove was attacked by a seagull after a release.


This story has some legs, I guess.

I received one message from a smart friend who wrote:

The whole incident on Sunday was allegorical. Pope of Peace launches dove symbolizing Vatican’s idealistic (ideological?), clichè-ridden peace teachings (“jamais plus la guerre”), meanwile a sea gull and a crow make short shrift of the dove, symbolizing the Real World.
All this right in front of the Pope of Peace. And thousands of Catholics. And live on TV.

By the way… I contend that it was one of these stupid dove release stunts that finally did in John Paul II.  In his weakened state he did one of these dopey things on a cold day and was never the same again.  That was the beginning of his end.

The article continued:

ENPA’s open letter to Francis noted that the pontiff is writing an encyclical, a formal church document, on ecology. “We know that the pontiff said he was sensitive to protecting the environment and the creatures that share it with us,” the animal protection organization said.

In solidarity with the environmentalists, I call on Francis to go green, reduce his carbon footprint, and use the sedia gestatory, just like his fluffy predecessor, the People’s Pope, the Good Pope, soon-to-be-Saint John XXIII.


It had to happen….

More photos at WaPo, including:


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Wait, I’ve seen that gull before…

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

    [We may not be done yet with this gull!]

  2. John Fannon says:

    I read somewhere, many years ago, that Bl John XXIII, when he became Pope negotiated a pay rise for the men who carried him in the sedia gestatoria on the grounds that he was a bit heavier than his predecessor. . .

  3. CharlesG says:

    And use of the Flabelli could reduce air conditioning expenses — but someone would have to flap them though…

  4. iPadre says:

    I thought the doves were not only a symbol of peace, but of the Holy Father and all good, practicing Catholics trying to live and defend their faith and the others are those who trying to destroy our Religious Freedom. They would eat us alive if they could. God speaks in strange ways!

  5. Pingback: Peace Dove Investigation |

  6. TopSully says:

    Father Finelli, it is funny, when i first saw the story I thought the crow symbolized the current US Administration and the gull symbolized the media.

  7. Gretchen says:

    Whichever way it’s interpreted (or not) it did not look good. It appeared foreboding. It appeared like a sign. Which Cassandra to believe?

  8. Andrew says:

    Perhaps this was part of some testing related to the upcoming encyclical on ecology?

  9. robtbrown says:

    iPadre says:
    I thought the doves were not only a symbol of peace, but of the Holy Father and all good, practicing Catholics trying to live and defend their faith and the others are those who trying to destroy our Religious Freedom. They would eat us alive if they could. God speaks in strange ways!

    Isn’t that why He shifts to the wise as serpents comparison?

  10. Domnall says:

    I know that to a lot of people, this seems like liberals just finding something to be upset about, but I think there is more to it.

    As a seriouly practicing Catholic, and an environmentalist, I can see where the ENPA is coming from. If there is a reasonable chance that these domestic doves will be attacked and killed upon release, then why bother releasing them? Yes, I know it makes a nice symbol, but aren’t we called to respect all of God’s creation? I mean, I really don’t think the symbolism of the doves outweighs the suffering caused to them if they are attacked.

    Furthermore, even if the doves were to make it out of the square, would they survive in captivity? I’m really having a hard time arguing against the ENPA. I think that, yes even though they’re “liberal,” that they’re right this time around.

  11. Legisperitus says:

    Yes, yes! Reduce the carbon thingy! That’s the ticket!

  12. JimGB says:

    I would love to see the sedia restored but, like the fanon (revived by B XVI too late into his pontificate) and the flabella, it has as much chance as a snowball in global warming h@#+! with this Pope. That will happen on the same day that all other members of the Jesuit order unanimously decide to begin wearing cassocks all the time.

  13. OrthodoxChick says:

    Or…or…wouldn’t it be cool if the Holy Father orally presents his encyclical on ecology to the world while being paraded around the square on the sedia?!

  14. pannw says:

    “Gulls nest atop the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, near the Tiber River, and scavenge for garbage in Rome. ”

    Well, I suppose we can be glad they didn’t use this unfortunate incident to push for the colonnade to be torn down. Chances are, if they are your typical ‘liberal’ group, they’d like to see all of St. Peter’s torn down.

    I do see it as an opportunity for environmentalists to suggest that perhaps it would be better to clean up the streets of Rome, if there is so much garbage that it draws gulls.

  15. Robbie says:

    In this instance, I’m fully on board with the “go green” concept. Bring back the sedia gestatory!

  16. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Meh. I’ve long thought the whole dove rite was trite and more than little syrupy symbolish. I’d be happy to see it go. This, from no friend of gulls neither.

  17. Dada says:

    Yours is exactly the kind of thinking that makes me concerned about the coming encyclical on the environment. I hope the Holy Father is paying attention to these environmental protectionists as he prepares the document. Although we are called to be good stewards of our resources, too often it receives undue concern and loses its proper place. People are wringing their hands about the attack of a couple of birds while children are being killed by the millions and countless people are damning themselves through sexual depravity. We should keep in mind the words of Our Lord that a human being is worth more many birds. The conversation is frustrating because our concerns are not properly ordered.

  18. NBW says:

    Question: what was the “stupid dove stunt that did John Paul II in”?
    Interestingly, the crow and gull are seen as unclean in the old testament.

  19. anilwang says:

    “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,”

    Simple solution. Before release, send the doves to an intensive bootcamp. Properly trained and outfitted, the gulls don’t stand a chance;-)

    Seriously, the whole incident is a great allegory on the nature of peace and how the vulnerable will be preyed upon, the moment you let your guard down. The naive hippy ideal that peace and love will always be returned, has rarely been the case. The cross our standard for peace, and it is not a peace of this world. Woe to those who say peace peace when there is no peace.

    I’d say, keep the dove releases going. Perhaps it’ll help teach our bishops to be a bit less comfortable with the world as sheep among wolves….to be both harmless as doves and wise as serpents.

  20. amenamen says:

    The best laid plans of mice and men …

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  21. Johnno says:

    We’ve always heard stories of ominous signs in history. To those who imagine they are mere literary embellishments, know that God authors His stories in actual events and actual history. This is a bad sign, and there will be impending war on the horizon.

    The vision of the Bishop in White leading faithful who are picked off one by one until the Pope himself is killed also hangs over the Papacy. There will not be peace until the Church does what God explicitly told us to. The clock is ticking.

  22. I just hope that this dove-crow thing isn’t a teaching moment about the Pope in White vs The Black[robe] Pope.

  23. OrthodoxChick says:

    amenamen definitely deserved that gold star!

  24. OrthodoxChick says:

    OOh! I missed Diane’s gold star. Also a good one. For some reason, I don’t recall the sistine seagull. One has to wonder though if there’s any deeper meaning to this pope being frequented by seagulls. If they’re all over Rome scavenging garbage, why don’t I recall seagulls attacking dove releases or hanging out at conclaves for Pope JPII or P.E. BVI?

  25. Domnall says:

    I see where you’re coming from and I agree with you for the most part. When issues such as this arise, there is no need to make a huge public stink over the possible death of a few doves. Looking at the issue, I still see it to be a poor choice considering the fate of the birds. If an organization feels strongly about this issue, they should have sent the Holy Father a private, polite letter explaining their concerns. This sort of public showboating on the part of the ENPA is unacceptable.

    My only concern is that we as a Church would neglect other issues in the name of the major hot button issues such as abortion. I abhor abortion, but I still think there is a proper time and place (yes, even now) for the Church to talk about other concerns such as the environment.

  26. Vecchio di Londra says:

    There is already a groundbreaking and quite recent papal encyclical about the environment: Caritas Veritate (published 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI): It analyzes in a very penetrating way the interplay between the global competition for natural resources, the exploitation (and spoliation) of the earth’s bounty, and the social economics of wages and welfare.

    That’s less than five years ago.

    OTOH abortion and euthanasia, whose institutionalization by the state grow swiftly apace, were last addressed by John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, so perhaps they deserve priority now?

  27. Pingback: The Pope, The Dove And The Pacifism Lesson | Mundabor's Blog

  28. rinkevichjm says:

    The whales and dolphins at Sea World also believe the gulls are pests and actively hunt them for sport.

  29. The Cobbler says:

    I think depriving the predatory birds of a potential food source is cruel. The dove-releases should be continued and expanded, for the ecosystem’s sake.

  30. Will D. says:

    Thom Peters had a blog post on this that pointed out the silly symbolism of the whole thing. Doves are slow flyers and not overly clever, so they make easy pickings. I don’t see any more meaning to this kerfuffle than that. Straining for divine messages in this seems only slightly less silly than looking for the future in a sacrificed sheep’s liver.
    I also object to the characterization of Ravens and Crows as evil. They’re very intelligent and beautiful creatures. Fr Z even notes how they aided the Prophet Elijah and St. Benedict.

  31. asperges says:

    Noah didn’t have all this bother. (Gen 8:11)

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