Aparecida (Agenzia Fides) - "We ask all of Brazilian society to build a vast project of reconciliation and peace, based on frank and open dialogue, which allows us to overcome what separates us, with the aim of guaranteeing what unites us: the country, its people and creation". This is the invitation launched by the Brazilian Bishops, gathered in Aparecida for their 60th General Assembly (see Fides, 18/4/2023) in their traditional message to the Brazilian people.
The Bishops underline the climate of communion of these days - "what unites us is Christ" - and reaffirm their "radical and unconditional" commitment to the integral defense of life which manifests itself in every human being and in all creation. This is happening at a time marked by great challenges: “Our communities are responding, with fraternal solidarity, to the consequences of socio-environmental tragedies; with the commitment of citizens to the defense of democracy and, with social responsibility, to the tragedy of hunger that afflicts us. With joy, we recognize, it is the authentic and effective witness that the world needs, in the light of the Word of God".
Among the reasons for the suffering of society, the message recalls the scourge of war on Ukrainian soil and in other parts of the world. Other scourges mentioned, which weaken the social fabric and put human relations to the test, are authoritarianism, polarization, misinformation, structural inequalities, racism, prejudice, corruption, the trivialization of evil and of life, disease, drug addiction, drug and human trafficking, illiteracy, forced migration, young people with few opportunities, violence in all its dimensions, feminicide, job and income insecurity, violations excessive to the “common home”, indigenous peoples and traditional communities, predatory mining…
Among the fruits of the widespread culture of insensitivity, indifference and contempt for the poorest and most abandoned, the Bishops mention "the criminal tragedy that occurred with the Yanomami people" (see Fides 30/1 and 1/2/ 2023). While acknowledging the arrival of some leaders of the indigenous movement in decision-making positions in federal and state governments, they warn that this presence "is not only figurative", but "there is an immense need to adopt measures and concrete actions for the defense of these peoples. We can no longer accept the abandonment of the original peoples in our history".
All these problems, the message continues, stem from the choice of "a cruel, unjust and unequal economic model", where the word "market" represents a financial and economic system "which carries out unscrupulous actions, destroys life, precarious public policies, especially education and health, adopt abusive interest rates that widen the social gap, affect the production chain and reduce the consumption of goods necessary for the majority of Brazilians”.
The bishops then address a greeting to the workers, recalling that the promises of economic growth, job creation, better working conditions, increased income, reduced workload, possibility of having more time for rest and social coexistence... the growing informality of labor relations reduces social security and prevents access to the minimum for survival. Work similar to slavery, present throughout the national territory, is a social scourge that must be energetically fought by the established powers and by society as a whole".
Faced with these difficult times, the Bishops call on all components of society to support each other, according to their own responsibilities, for the good of the country, and quoting Pope Francis, they underline the need to create a "space for co-responsibility capable of putting into place new processes and changes" (Fratelli Tutti, 77). "The starting point of this construction is found in families, in communities, in social, professional, ecclesial and political relationships, through social friendship that promotes a culture of encounter".
Inviting the faithful to pray for the implementation of this project, to invoke from God an end to wars, conflicts and violence, the Bishops conclude by reaffirming their "deep confidence in the Brazilian people" and urge: "We are not afraid. Hope is our courage! We try to be sowers of change, solidarity and life". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 28/4/2023)