The following article appeared on the blog This Dish is Vegetarian:
With Lent right around the corner, PETA penned a letter to the head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking him to urge bishops to adopt a vegan diet for Lent.
“Adopting a vegan diet is a wonderful Christian response to the unholy abuse of billions of animals,” writes PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich. “As you know, chickens and turkeys have their throats cut while they are still conscious, piglets' tails and testicles are cut off without any painkillers, and fish suffocate or are cut open while still alive on the decks of fishing boats. Of course, the Catechism and Pope Benedict XVI have publically encouraged Catholics to see animals as kindred beings: "Animals, too, are God's creatures … creatures we must respect as companions in creation."
PETA refers to a 2002 interview, when Pope Benedict XVI was known to the world as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He was asked by German journalist Peter Seewald, “Are we allowed to make use of animals, and even to eat them?”
The current-day pontiff responded, “That is a very serious question. At any rate, we can see that they are given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them. Animals, too, are God's creatures. Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.”
In addition to this remark criticizing factory farms Pope Benedict XVI has expressed the importance of protecting animals. His statements echo official church teachings laid out in the Catholic Catechism, “Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals (n. 2416).”
PETA hopes bishops will use their Christian teachings of mercy and peace to encourage parishioners to follow a vegan diet.
Lent begins on Feb. 17, 2010.