End bull burning festivals in Spain.

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The Petition: We call on His Holiness to resolutely, unequivocally and absolutely condemn, the obscenity of the use of fire to torture and terrorise animals in the course of religious or historical celebrations, or as a means of popular entertainment, in a country where 25 million people assert themselves to be observant Catholics. 

Approach: My petition contains a lot of background information on how this situation develops and the sources of the cruelty and the enjoyment of torturing animals. To stop something, we have to understand it, as utterly repugnant as much of the material I have included is. I have thought carefully about what should be included and, after discussion with the site moderators, only links are included to the more horrific material. It is the reader's choice whether to look at it or not. 

There has been a strong reaction, a small part of it couched in unacceptable terms - foul language, calls to violence. These aren't acceptable and have led to the site moderators removing a number of updates. Please think about what you're writing if you comment as well as support. I want this petition to be a lot more than an echo chamber. 

Background: I realise that many people, in many countries, have been greatly upset to learn of the practice I describe, and to see the sad reality. However, I believe that the use of fire, deliberately to inflict terror, pain and immense suffering, for the single reason of providing human entertainment, is an abomination and an affront to humanity. 

I am referring to events such as this: https://vimeo.com/191342534 

Several thousand bull events including the use of fire take place across eastern Spain (Valencia region, Catalonia, Castellon, Aragon, and occasionally other places) each year. Some are big "set piece", macabre spectacles ending in the animal's death. In others, the animal is taken away and may be used again, despite its injuries and suffering. Yet others involve using fire to make groups of animals stampede in the street. The events take place wherever they can be arranged - on sports grounds, makeshift stadiums, in the middle of the street. 

The process is more or less the same across all the spectacles and involves mob violence strikingly reminiscent of lynching. A clearly terrified animal is dragged to a stake, where it is tied up, manhandled by a large group of people. Frantic struggling takes place during the application of the flames and immediately afterwards. The noise the animal makes as it is brutalised and as the flames are brought to its head is nauseating. This is often drowned out with music. Fireworks may be attached to the bull or thrown at it, fires are lit around it that it runs through. I have seen videos in which women take the lead role, their faces contorted as they apply the flames to the bull. On other occasions, flames are applied to bulls crammed together in cages and lorries; they crash around, stamp, panic, fall over and burn each other as the fire develops.

All mammals fear fire; they flee it. The bull cannot do this. All mammals experience extreme pain when burned. I have read some of the reports from Spanish veterinary associations on the practice. The reading is difficult: the animal suffers burns to the head, eyes and back; it may be blinded by the heat and sparks falling into its eyes; its neck may be broken by being roped to be dragged as it struggles; its spine damaged from the frantic thrashing as it tries to rid itself of the fire; extreme physical and emotional stress sufficient to kill it from a heart attack. There are very distressing videos on the internet of flaming bulls charging against walls to try to put the flames out, bloody horns hanging off with flames still attached, or dying on the spot from head injuries.

During all of this, people celebrate wildly.

One of Spain's main newspapers has repeatedly in its editorials called for an end to the use of fire to torture animals. To no avail. Burning bulls was made illegal in Spain between 1963 and 1977. However, with the restoration of post-Franco democracy, it was relegalised and has become one of the predominant forms of bovine torture in the Spanish regions named above. There has never been any specific condemnation of the practice from the Spanish Catholic hierarchy or the Holy See.  Spain strongly rejects foreign criticism over its treatment of animals, hence why this petition seeks an intervention from The Pope and is not addressed to the Spanish Government (it would simply ignore it), which has - quite incredibly - applied for UNESCO recognition of some of the fire bull events as meriting world heritage.

There are more than 16,000 documented events in Spain, each year, in which people celebrate torture and killing. An orgy of violence against animals continues to permeate historical, cultural and religious events, involve many species (mainly bulls and calves), and includes stabbing, mutilation, amputation of tails and ears, beheading, burning and drowning. However, I believe the use of fire to be the most monstrous abuse: it is intended, specifically, to terrorise, to inflict pain, and to utterly debase and humiliate a living creature. 

Desired Outcome: The Catholic Church in Spain remains a significant influence, and I believe that a Papal Interdiction specifically condemning and rejecting the use of fire to torture animals in the name of national celebration, historical tradition or religious ceremony, would be heard. 

I would like to gather 100,000 signatures, from the entire world, at which point the petition will be first submitted to His Holiness. I hope that a list of names that long will be too large to ignore.

Thank you for your support.

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