September is the peak month in Spain for tormenting our fellow species in honour of the Virgin and the saints.

In Tordesillas, Castilla y Leon, the Toro de la Vega fiesta subjects a chosen bull – this year named Rompesuenos (Dreambreaker) – to the religious frenzy of men who hurl lances at him until he collapses and dies. Later in the month, a similar event takes place in Algemesi, Valencia. This time, it is a group of young bulls which are tormented to death. It was once the privilege of “mozos” – lads, to inflict this suffering; now the “mozas” – ladettes – are in on the deplorable cruelty.

We sent our good wishes to the campaigners against these fiestas; in Tordesillas, some 800 met to stand up for Rompesuenos the Sunday before his death. A small plane overflew the town, with a banner describing it as “human shame”, on the Sunday and at the actual slaughter. We protested to all the bodies responsible for this cruelty, including the prime minister. We also asked Pastor James Thompson, the Animals’ Padre, to send a formal address, as encouragement to the campaigners and to remind the religious that there is still a Papal Edict in force which bans, under pain of excommunication, bullfights and similar spectacles.

He begins:

“ In the name of Christ the Good Shepherd as well as that of St Francis of Assisi, a patron saint of Catholicism, blessings upon the animal rights activists of Spain. God and goodness are on your side.”

He continues: “That the church hierarchy of Spain should now allow it [such blood fiestas] – indeed, encourage it – is, surely, an affront to all decency. It is nothing less than a wilful way of playing down the cardinal virtues for exercising compassion and care towards more vulnerable life than one’s own. ..
By such barbaric and grotesque traditions as bull fighting the Catholic Church in Spain is not only sinning against helpless animals over which we are called of God to exercise a caring guardianship and stewardship, but it is also corrupting young and pliable minds. I mean that instead of following the example of saints such as Francis of Assisi, they are now being brainwashed, via the corrida, to believe that exploiting forms of life weaker than ones own is expected every day behaviour for the church’s faithful.”

He concludes: “So to you folk out in Spain who fight for animal liberation I say: Christ the Good Shepherd is smiling down upon you today. God bless each and every one of you; and always remember that you are nearer to victory than you may ever realise!

Your friend & fellow activist,

Rev. Fr James Thompson – the animals’ padre”.