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Pope Francis, who is known for his independent streak and for captivating crowds, has landed the February 2014 cover of Rolling Stone magazine. “The times they are a-changin’ at the Vatican,” Rolling Stone declared in the headline, offering a look “inside the Pope’s gentle revolution.” Since his election last March, Pope Francis, 77, has emerged as an endearing figure known for his humility and desire to build a more inclusive church.

Meanwhile, animal rights activists are asking Pope Francis to stop the ceremonial practice of releasing doves from a Vatican window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. The petition was created on Care2 following a recent incident in which a seagull and crow attacked the released doves while thousands of people watched below.


Doves are typically released as a symbol of peace, but The National Animal Protection Agency, or ENPA, has warned that domesticated doves have trouble recognizing and fighting off attackers, so releasing them into the square makes them particularly vulnerable. The Care2 petition has already gathered 135 signatures.

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“It was very disturbing to see those peace doves getting attacked, said Chris Wolverton, who created the petition. “Nobody saw this dove release as a symbol of peace. It was a scene of violence, which is the opposite of peace. I hope that Pope Francis realizes this and will find alternative methods to share his peace message. There are many other symbols he could use like paper cranes, white poppy flowers, and the peace sign, to name a few. Putting animals in danger is not a sensible way to promote peace.”

Gulls nest on top of the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square and hunt for garbage in the city. In an open letter, the ENPA said freeing doves in Rome is like “condemning them to certain death.”

Pope Francis Is Famous! He Hits Cover Of Rolling Stone And Animal Activists Come For Him  was originally published on

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