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Cardinal Konrad Krajewski lies on stage while an elephant climbs over him during a February 11 performance of Rony Roller Circus in Rome (Crux/screen capture)

Pope Francis and Cardinal Konrad Krajewski have come under fire from animal rights activists after the papal almoner participated in a circus performance on Saturday that included elephants. Source: Crux

Cardinal Krajewski organised an outing on Saturday for more than 200 poor and marginalised people, taking them to a performance of the Rony Roller circus, a famed spectacle in Rome that features musical performances, clowns, trapeze artists, animal tamers, and jugglers. The invitation was extended in the name of Pope Francis.

He now finds himself facing a protest from an animal rights group, which believes such spectacles amount to human beings subjecting animals to “painful constraints” for our own amusement.

The event was part of an ongoing effort by Cardinal Krajewski to offer not just material aid to the poor, but also opportunities for relaxation and amusement. 

During Saturday’s performance, one highlight came when Cardinal Krajewski volunteered to stretch out on a stage and allow an elephant to climb over him.

Less than 24 hours afterwards, Pope Francis and Cardinal Krajewski found themselves facing a complaint from the Italy-based “International Organisation for the Protection of Animals,” which has long objected to the use of animals in circus performances.

“I’m sorry that the Pope somehow is sponsoring a circus with animals,” said Massimo Comparotto, the organisation’s president, in a statement on Sunday.

“The pontiff often has expressed the importance of a greater respect for nature, above all in the encyclical Laudato si’ of 2015,” Mr Comparotto said. “This choice seems contradictory to his so-called ‘ecological magisterium.’”

“Behind the exercises of the circus performances can be hidden deprivation, mistreatment and suffering for the animals, who live in captivity, behind bars, with limited space available and constantly under stress,” he said.


Animal rights group blasts Pope, Krajewski for circus outing with elephants (Crux)