By Luke Coppen
From The Catholic Herald, July 3, 1998
St Francis of Assisi must have turned in his grave this week as the
EU Commission sanctioned a Catholic "religious" rite involving the
crucifixion of a dove.
The Commission ruled that the Whit Sunday ceremony, performed by
churchgoers in Orvieto, Italy, must be respected as an authentic
The Reverend Professor Andrew Linzey, who holds the world's first
chair (at Oxford) in theology and animal welfare, attacked the
"There is no Christian religious rite that sanctions the sacrifice of
animals," he said. "The Christian tradition, which grew out of Judaism,
repudiated animal sacrifices."
The rite involves the nailing of a live dove to a wheel, which is
surrounded with lit fireworks, and is rolled to the door of a church.
Local legend says that the dove's condition on arrival at the church is
an omen for the town in the coming year.
Professor Linzey, an Anglican priest, described the practice as
He said: "The deliberate infliction of suffering on innocent sentient
creatures is nothing less than intrinsically evil. Catholics must be
worried that this somehow bolsters the stereotype that to be a Catholic
Christian is to be cruel to animals."
Reproduced with thanks.
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