NEW YORK — After proposing that Pope Francis go vegan for Lent, in exchange for a $1 million dollar donation to a charity of his choosing, 12-year-old Genesis Butler is now requesting that the two meet for a vegan lunch during the Church’s annual penitential season.
In February, Butler penned an open letter in conjunction with the Million Dollar Vegan campaign, to the pontiff which was published in newspapers around the globe, appealing to Francis to forego his beloved Argentine beef and embrace a plant-based diet for 40 days in order to help the environment.
Butler’s letter specifically cited the pope’s 2015 encyclical Laudato si’, in which he called for greater care for creation.
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The environmental and animal welfare activist received a response from the pontiff, through the Vatican’s Secretary of State, that said “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 See’s Assessor for General Affairs, Paolo Borgia, signed the letter.
On Ash Wednesday, the start of the Church’s Lenten season, Butler released a video letting the pope know her offer was still on the table — and that she’d appreciate the chance to discuss it further.
“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 honor for me and everyone in the vegan community to have an audience with Your Holiness and receive your blessings in person,” she said.
Matthew Glover, CEO of Million Dollar Vegan, also released a statement on Wednesday thanking the pope for his response.
“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,” 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 30-50 percent by adopting a plant-based diet,” he continued.
The organization also launched vegan starter kit in hopes of getting Catholics to join Orthodox Christians who traditionally give up meat during the Lenten season.
Last month, Butler visited Rome from California, where she was seeking to meet the pope to entice him with her offer.
She told Crux that should the pope accept her challenge, “he would be able to help both animals and the planet.”
“In Laudato si’, he talks about climate change and animals, and as a leader, he should show leadership on this issue and become vegan for Lent,” Butler said.