Perhaps in an attempt to make up for an unfortunate scene that unfolded on Friday when two white doves released by Pope Francis were attacked by a seagull and a crow, the leader of the Catholic Church went out of his way to be kind to birds on Wednesday. To the delight of onlookers, Francis stopped his tour through St. Peter's Square in Vatican City to hold and bless a green parrot named Amore that was offered to him by his owner, Francesco Lombardi, says AP.
Francis initially drove by Amore during his general audience, but then doubled back and took the bird for a few seconds on his finger. Lombardi said Amore parroted back the "Papa" that the crowd was chanting.
While no one is sure what happened to the doves in the incident on Friday because they flew off after the attack, the incident on Friday was targeted by animal rights activists, who say that it was bound to happen. Pure-white doves don't exist in the wild, and are easy targets for predators. Those doves, writes National Geographic, "were the result of hundreds of years of domestication and breeding, creating these freakishly white birds for use as pets, and for release at weddings and other ceremonies."
Shortly after the incident, a petition appeared on Care2 asking the Pope to stop releasing doves.
Domesticated doves are easy targets for other birds due to their white color and inability to recognize predators and flee. The Pope's intentions in releasing the doves were innocent, but after witnessing the gruesome aftermath he needs to end the practice. There are other traditional peace symbols the Pope could use to send a dramatic message without harming any creatures. For example, he could have children make paper cranes or plant white poppy flowers. Please sign the petition to convince the Pope to stop releasing peace doves.