Pope Francis has responded to a $1 million charity challenge to go vegan for Lent – in a campaign spearheaded by 12-year-old activist Genesis Butler.
As we enter the first day of Lent the Pope has sent a personal response to Butler regarding her Million Dollar Vegan campaign.
The campaign aims to encourage the world to go plant-based to save the environment and to combat climate change.
It has also now requested that Butler meets with Pope Francis for a vegan meal at the Vatican to discuss her concerns about the planet.
If the Pope accepts the challenge, which is backed by celebrities Moby, Woody Harrelson and Paul McCartney, the group will donate $1m to a charity of his choice.
‘Appreciates the concerns’
A response from the Pope, signed by senior priest and Assessor for General Affairs, Paolo Borgia, reads: “His Holiness Pope Francis has received your letter, and he has asked me to thank you.
“He appreciates the concerns about care for the world, our common home, which prompted you to write to him.
“The Holy Father will remember you in his prayers, and he sends you his blessing.”
Butler recorded a video message in which she responds: “Your Holiness, I am truly humbled with gratitude by your acknowledgement of my request to observe a vegan Lent.
“Thank you so very much for blessing me and keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. It means more to me than I can ever express in words.
“Your Holiness, if it is not too much to ask, may I humbly request an opportunity to sit down and share a vegan meal with you any time during Lent?
“It will be an enormous honour for me and everyone in the vegan community to have an audience with Your Holiness and receive your blessings in person. Eagerly awaiting your further response. Respectfully Yours, Genesis.”
Butler has been vegan since the age of six and is a renowned animal rights campaigner.
On the launch of the campaign she said: “We’re asking for Pope Francis to help protect our planet by drawing attention to the devastating impact of animal agriculture.
“By going plant-based for lent he would be leading the way to a more sustainable planet. Join us and fight climate change with diet change.”
Campaigners will be hopeful Pope Francis may be responsive to their challenge, as he has spoken about his fears for the planet in the past and has a huge influence on the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world.
Matthew Glover, CEO of Million Dollar Vegan – who also co-founded the Veganuary campaign – said: “We are truly grateful that Pope Francis was able to take the time to respond to Genesis, but we are now politely requesting that His Holiness takes action to address the issues of climate change, loss of biodiversity, species extinction, animal suffering and world hunger – all of which are linked to animal agriculture by meeting with Genesis and trying vegan for Lent.
“We would like His Holiness to consider what Jesus would say about factory farming, and also the fact that – according to research from Oxford University – we can reduce our personal greenhouse gas emissions by around 30-50% by adopting a plant-based diet.”
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