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 CATHOLIC CONCERN FOR ANIMALS

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De Salute Gregis,
of Pope Saint Pius V, November 1567

Pius, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God, for the continual recollection of the matter Concerning the safety of the flock of our Lord, entrusted by divine superintendence to our care:

According as we are constrained by what is due to our pastoral office, anxiously pondering over the matter, we are desirous of keeping all the faithful of the same flock not only from imminent danger to the body, but also from everlasting destruction of the soul.

It is true that the abominable custom of duelling, invented by the Devil, that, by the bloody death of the body he may bring about ruin of souls, was forbidden by the decree of the Council of Trent, but nevertheless, even now in many States and in diverse places very many men do not cease to assemble with bulls and other wild beasts, both in public and private exhibitions, for the purpose of displaying their own strength and daring, hence men meet with death, broken limbs, and danger to their souls.

We, therefore, regarding these exhibitions where bulls and wild beasts are baited in the circus or Forum as being contrary to Christian duty and charity, and desiring that these bloody and disreputable exhibitions of devils rather than of men should be abolished, and that we should take measures for the saving of souls, as far as we can, under God's help, to all and individual Christian Princes who are honoured with any rank, whether ecclesiastical, civil, or even Imperial, Royal, or any other, by whatever name they are called, as well as to all people and states (desiring that these injunctions should be established by our decree for ever under the threat of excommunication and anathema, on incurring the penalty), prohibit and forbid to allow in their provinces, states, lands or towns and other places, exhibitions of this kind where there is baiting of bulls and other wild beasts.

We forbid soldiers and all other persons, whether on foot or horseback, to dare to contend with bulls or other beasts in the aforementioned exhibitions. And if any one of them meets his death there he shall be deprived of Christian burial.

We likewise forbid the Clergy, whether regular or secular, who hold office in the Church, or who are in Holy Orders, to be present at such exhibitions under the penalty of excommunication. And all debts, obligations and bets by whoever persons contracted, whether from universities or colleges, with reference to bull-baitings of this kind, even supposing they themselves wrongly imagine them to be held in honour of the Saints, or of any ecclesiastical anniversaries or festivals, which ought to be celebrated and honoured with godly praise, spiritual joy, and words of piety, all such, whether contracted in the past, present, or future, we altogether prohibit and annul, and we . decree and declare in perpetuity that they are to he held void and of none effect.

We issue our command to all Princes, Officers, Barons, and those who hold rank in the Holy Roman Church, under penalty of deprivation of rank which they hold from the Roman Church itself; but all other Christian princes and lords of land, to whom our commands have been given, we exhort in the Lord, and order, in virtue of our sacred right of obedience, that out of reverence and honour for the DIVINE NAME they most carefully honour and cause the foregoing to be observed in their dominions and lands, seeing that they will receive the richest reward from God Himself lor such good works.

And to our Venerable Brethren throughout the world, Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops Bishops and other local officers, in virtue of our sacred right to obedience, under the solemn thought of the judgment of God and the threat of eternal curse, we command that they cause our present letter to be published, as far as possible, in their own states and dioceses.

From: The Church and Kindness to Animals, London: Burns & Oates, 1906.

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