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Brazil’s bishops speak out on political crisis

Posted on: April 1, 2016 4:44 PM
Brazil’s Anglican bishops have spoken out in support of President Dilma Rousseff, saying that moves to impeach her are motivated by political opposition to “social policies that have changed the lives of millions of Brazilians in recent years” rather than evidence of wrongdoing.
Photo Credit: Roberto Stuckert Filho

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Moves to impeach Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, are motivated not by evidence of wrong-doing but by political opposition to “social policies that have changed the lives of millions of Brazilians in recent years,” the bishops of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil – the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil – have said.

The bishops’ intervention, in a "Message to the Church and the Brazilian Society", on Thursday came on a day which saw large-scale protests on the streets of major cities throughout Brazil as the political crisis in the country continues to grow. The lower house of Brazil’s senate is expected to debate President Rousseff’s impeachment later this month. In response, thousands of people took to the streets to protest her innocence.

In the statement issued yesterday, the bishops begin by reaffirming their December 2015 document, “In Defence of Democracy and Social Justice and Against the Impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff”; as well as a statement by the National Council of Christian Churches statement, also issued in December 2015, “Statement on the Defense of Democracy by the Religious Organizations of Brazil”; as well as Archbishop Francisco De Assis da Silva’s statement last month that the allegations against the President should be dealt with under the rule of law.

They say: “we express our understanding that the process of impeachment is steered by political leaders, many of which are being investigated for corruption, are well known defenders of the business sector which historically has benefitted from public funds.”

The stress that they are not defending “a particular party or political leader” but the “social and economic policies that will reduce the extreme poverty as well as facilitate the access to housing, education, and health services to millions of people who are excluded from these non-negotiable human rights.”

They add: “the way in which the impeachment process has been conducted shows clear vices, it does not prove crime according to the current legislations and hides the true intent of preventing the continuity of the social policies that have changed the lives of millions of Brazilians in recent years.

“For the goodness of the Brazilian society and its citizens, the fight against corruption should continue at all levels. We advocate a comprehensive reform of the political and electoral system in Brazil through a referendum which establishes clear procedures to finance campaigns, eliminating abuse and focuses on the welfare of the Brazilian people. . .”

They warn that expressions of “hatred and violence against individuals or groups” serve to “hinder the democratic society we strive to build in peace and justice.

“We believe it is our pastoral and prophetic duty to raise our vices as part of Christ’s Church in defence of justice, truth and peace following the words of James: ‘now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace’ and echoing the psalm 85:10: ‘mercy and truth meet, righteousness and peace have embraced.’”