100,000 dead Brazilians: Bishops accuse government of inaction

A draft letter signed by Brazilian bishops is causing an uproar in the Brazilian media and church, as it hits out hard at the government.

In the letter scheduled to be presented to the executive committee of the bishops’ conference, over 150 bishops accuse the federal government of “inaction and omission” in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

They also accuse the federal government of “inability and incapacity” to face the crisis.

“Closing its eyes to the appeals of national and international entities, the federal government demonstrates omission, apathy and rejection by the poorest and most vulnerable of society, namely: indigenous, quilombolas (communities of former Afro Brazilian slaves), riverside communities, the populations of the urban peripheries, and the people who live on the streets, by the thousands, all over Brazil,” part of the letter says.

In their “Letter to People of God,” the Brazilian bishops compare Brazil’s current difficulties to a “perfect storm.”

“The cause of this storm is the combination of an unprecedented health crisis, with an overwhelming collapse of the economy and the tension that befell the foundations of the republic, caused in large measure by the president of the republic and other sectors of society, resulting in a profound political and governance crisis,” the letter says.

“The political choices that have brought us here and the narrative (that) it proposes complacency in the face of the federal government’s excesses do not justify inaction and omission in combating the ills that have befallen the Brazilian people.”

“Analysing the political scenario, objectively, we clearly perceive the federal government’s inability to face these crises.”

The letter’s signatories also say the contempt shown by President Jair Bolsonaro’s government for education, culture, health and diplomacy is “appalling.”

They say the draft will be presented to the executive committee of the bishops’ conference tomorrow.

Last Thursday over 1,500 priests released a letter supporting the bishops’ letter.

They said government officials have a duty to act in favor of the entire population, especially of the most vulnerable.

“This has not been the project of the current government,” the priests say.

They consider the bishops’ letter “a prophetic document of a significant portion of the bishops of the Catholic Church in Brazil.”

“We sympathize with all the families that lost someone to this disease … [With almost] 100,000 deaths in this pandemic, it is unacceptable that there is no minister of health in this government, who can lead the policies to combat the new coronavirus,” the priests say.

The Brazilian bishops’ conference says the bishops’ letter does not reflect the position of the conference, which has more than 450 bishops.

The 150 signatories include Cardinal Claudio Hummes, retired archbishop of Sao Paulo and former head of the Congregation for Clergy; retired Bishop Erwin Krautler of Xingu; Archbishop Leonardo Steiner of Manaus; and Bishop Mario da Silva of Roraima, current conference vice president.




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