As many already know, St. Francis was an animal lover—and it is also an understatement to say that Pope Francis adores lovable critters too! The Pope advocates animals’ rights so much that in 2015, he became the first religious leader to be chosen as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) Person of the Year!
Here are some of the heartwarming moments when Pope Francis showed his love for animals:
Also Read: Questions Kids Ask the Pope
A Special Commitment
The Santo Papa has shown his love for God’s creatures many times. For instance, there is the fact that he decided to forgo wearing ermine fur, which was a favorite of previous popes. This was one gesture that was not interpreted as a random act.
To add to this, the Pope also became a member of the Italian Federation of Animal Rights group, Feder FIDA Onlus! Loredana Pronio, the organization’s president, gave Pope Francis a plaque as honorary member. And when she asked him to designate a day for voluntary service dedicated to animals, the Pope agreed, and suggested that she already lay the groundwork for the event.
A Champion of Animals
As an “animal rightist,” Pope Francis also gave a private audience to the president of the Bio-park in Rome, Federico Coccia, during which he stressed the need to protect animals through respecting them, as well as the need for environmental education for the children. At the end of the exchange, the Pope promised to visit the Bio-park to bless the structure and the animals housed in it.
An Open Invitation
If Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI loves cats, Pope Francis has a soft spot for dogs. When he celebrated his 77th birthday at Casa Santa Marta together with the staff and some homeless people who live around the area, the papal almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, asked three homeless people (one of them holding his inseparable puppy), “Would you like to come to the birthday celebration of Pope Francis?” Of course they were stunned—but they quickly accepted the invitation after the shock wore off. They were invited to lunch, where the Pope welcomed their group, including their four- legged companion!