Balloons Vatican’s new peace symbol
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Balloons Vatican’s new peace symbol

Holy See adopts custom after animal rights activists protest use of doves

Colored balloons released by children fly next to a statue, at the end of the noon Angelus prayer recited by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. (photo credit: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Colored balloons released by children fly next to a statue, at the end of the noon Angelus prayer recited by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. (photo credit: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Dove lovers, rejoice.

Balloons, not doves, were released as a gesture of peace Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, a year after an attack by a seagull and a crow on the symbolic birds sparked protests by animal rights groups.

For many years children, flanking the pope at a window of the papal studio overlooking the square, have released a pair of doves on the last Sunday in January. The Catholic Church traditionally dedicates January to peace themes.

Last year, the feel-good practice became a public relations disaster. After the children with Pope Francis tossed a pair of doves from the window, first a seagull and then a crow swept down and attacked the doves. Their ultimate fate was unknown.

A dove which was freed by children flanking  Pope Francis is chased by a black crow and a seagull at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014.  (photo credit: AP/Gregorio Borgia)
A dove which was freed by children flanking Pope Francis is chased by a black crow and a seagull at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Gregorio Borgia)
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