Elephants are the world's largest land mammals and are keystone species for the savannah and forest ecosystems. However, these gentle giants are being poached for their ivory at unprecedented rates. In 1980 there were over 1,000,000 elephants in the wild. Today, there are as few as 450,000 in the wild, with possible extinction by 2020. An estimated 100 elephants are killed every day by poachers. It is imperative that the Catholic Church, one of the world's largest religious institutions, stand up for elephants and say no to ivory art.
Certain Catholic parishes utilize ivory in their religious iconography. This must stop. In the words of the Vatican under your predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, “We are absolutely convinced that the massacre of elephants is a very serious matter….” Your catechism also states that, “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.” It is our hope that you will heed the above words and those of Pope John Paul II when he said, “the earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”
With your Church's global reach, we concerned citizens of the globe, beseech you to forthright condemn the senseless killing of elephants and the use of ivory in religious practices and ornamentation. We ask you to pledge your support to the CITES treaty for animal protection. The above actions will communicate to Catholics around the world, and people of all creeds and nationalities, that the Church stands true to its principles to care for creation and underscore the fact that the massacre of elephants must be stopped.