What Christianity lacks: a relationship to both God and the natural world
Balloons, not doves, were released as a gesture of peace on Sunday, 25 January 2014 in St. Peter's Square, a year after an attack by a seagull and a crow, on the symbolic birds, sparked protests by animal protection groups.
For years on the last Sunday in January — traditionally dedicated to peace themes in the Catholic Church — children with the pope at the window overlooking St. Peter's Square set free a pair of doves. However, last year the unthinkable happened: 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.
This year Pope Francis used balloons instead of doves, for according to him the balloons mean peace.
But do they really?
In the song "99 Red Balloons", by German singer-songwriter Gabriele Susanne Kerner, better known by her stage name "Nena", a bag's worth of red helium balloons are casually released by an anonymous civilian into the sky, and are registered as missiles by a faulty early warning system, which results in panic, and eventually nuclear war. The balloons have quite the opposite meaning of peace in this song!
In the misunderstood Sochi Olympics opening, on the other hand, a girl named Lyuba lets go of a red balloon. In this case the balloon is designed to evoke the pagan sun of ancient Russia, the aesthetics of the Bolshevik revolution, and the blood spilled over the course of the long project of nation-building. Again, not much about peace either.
After the seagull and crow incident last year, social media posts used words such as "demonic", "omen", and "apocalypse" to describe what the attack on the doves meant. How did scientists justify the attack on the doves?
National Geographic said that the doves were attacked because they were "bred to be unnaturally white".
The same, however, can also be said of the balloons, hardly natural symbols at all.
Maybe that's the problem with the Catholic Church, and with Christianity in general: too much emphasis on the supernatural, and very little left to the natural world.
As I've written in the past:
Our most advanced understanding of biology is beginning to indicate that even in our relationship to ourselves, there is a lot more than the simple Cartesian mind-body dichotomy would suggest. Ninety percent of the cells residing in the human body are not human cells; they are microbes. It is often said by enlightened Christians that Christianity is not just a religion; it is a relationship with God. A Cesidian would suggest that there is a desperate need today to widen that relationship also to the natural world that surrounds us, and that is quite significantly actually within us. 
After dove debacle, Vatican makes balloons new peace symbol
99 Luftballons: Plot (Wikipedia)
The Red Balloon of Russian History: How American Media Misunderstood The Sochi Olympics Opening
Why Birds Attacked the Peace Doves in Rome