The recent surprise announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he would be resigning his papacy has prompted many appraisals of his career and his legacy. To PETA, one of his most important teachings was offered to those of us who care both about animals and about the moral considerations behind our food choices.


In a 2002 interview, when questioned about the rights of animals, His Holiness—then a cardinal—replied, “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, 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.”

Proverbs 12:10 reminds the faithful that “[t]he just man takes care of his beast.” But whatever one’s personal beliefs—or lack thereof—regarding eternal matters such as mortal sin and heavenly salvation, it’s clear that modern industrialized factory farming (including fish farming, and organic meat, dairy, and egg production) constitutes a kind of hell on Earth for cows, chickens, pigs, and other animals who are painfully mutilated and raised under intensive confinement before going to slaughter, where they face a violent and terrifying death.

Jesus, who said in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful,” would be appalled to witness the damage that egg, dairy, and meat production inflicts on animals, our health, and the environment. Choosing vegan foods, by contrast, is a wonderful Christian response to the unholy abuse of billions of animals. You’ll find plenty of inspiration in PETA‘s free and delicious vegan recipes.