Animal-loving rocker Sir Paul McCartney has praised POPE BENEDICT XVI for reminding Catholics to be compassionate towards animals.

Following his predecessor JOHN PAUL II's proclamation that animals have souls, Benedict has slammed the practice of factory farming - and McCartney, who was raised a Catholic, is excited by the validation from such an influential source.

In an interview to celebrate People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals' (PETA) 25th anniversary, he says, "God bless him! I think it would be fantastic if someone in his position who's able to reach so many people took a strong stance on that, because one of PETA's strongest points, and one of mine, is compassion.

"That certainly is a basic tenet of the Catholic religion. I think it would be terrific if he took a strong stance and urged people to come out against that kind of thing."