popebenedict_fur.jpgPope Benedict's attire has fallen under the spotlight yet again, after anti-fur protesters in Italy launched an online petition appealing to the pontiff not to wear his fur-trimmed robes.

The Italian Association for Defence of Animals and the Environment has so far gathered 2,260 signatures for its petition.

"The pope has often talked about protecting the environment and we are asking that he acknowledges that animals, as God's creation, also deserve respect," said Lorenzo Croce, head of the organisation.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo defended the pope yesterday, saying: "Aren't there more important battles to wage?" he asked. "There are human beings who merit more urgent assistance that no one is taking care of. And if we eat animals, we can wear them."

More recently, the pope's attire hit the headlines in June when the Vatican was forced to deny that the he wore red loafers designed by Prada, giving him the nickname 'Prada Pope'. The Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, labelled the claims as "frivolous," condemning the media reports which are said to have trivialised the church.