Pope Francis has issued a response to 12-year-old vegan activist Genesis Butler’s plea for the religious leader to go vegan for Lent in exchange for $1 million, to be donated to a charity of his choosing. The response to the written plea—an initiative led by the Million Dollar Vegan campaign—came from Paolo Borgia, a senior priest and Assessor for General Affairs for Pope Francis. “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 letter stated.”The Holy Father will remember you in his prayers, and he sends you his blessing.” Given the Pope’s ambiguous response, Butler is continuing her efforts by inviting the religious leader to share a vegan meal with her at any time during Lent to discuss the devastating effects of animal agriculture on the environment. “We are grateful that Pope Francis was able to take the time to respond to Genesis, but we are now politely requesting that His Holiness take 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 discussing these issues,” Million Dollar Vegan CEO and Veganuary co-founder Matthew Glover said. “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 to 50 percent by adopting a plant-based diet.” The Million Dollar Vegan campaign is supported by a petition that currently boasts nearly 85,000 signatures.

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