After the victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the elections last Sunday It is not ruled out that Pope Francis will visit Brazil. In the Catholic Church there are those who consider it “desirable and even probable” that Jorge Mario Bergoglio land for the second time in the country with the largest Catholic population in the world.
The first trip
His first trip abroad as Pope was in 2013 to lead the World Youth Day, during the government of President Dilma Rousseff, with whom he established a cordial relationship. That tour of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, which included a tour of a favela, was the result of negotiations in which the leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) took part. Gilberto Carvalho, ex-seminarian, Lula’s confidant and with good transit between social movements. On that occasion he promised to return four years later in 2017 for the celebrations of the third centenary of the appearance of the Virgin of Aparecidathe national patron.
That stay in 2013 put an end to the not very fluid relations between the Planalto Palace and the former Vatican head of state, Benedict XVI. “I really believe that the Pope will be able to visit us again. It is not impossible that he will return. Surely Lula will invite him as soon as he has the opportunity to see him,” he told this newspaper. Anthony Eduardo de Oliveira, secretary of the Missionary Indigenous Council (CIMI), an organization linked to the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB).
“If Francisco came it would be a great joy for the Church and for the indigenous peoples, the Pope has a special affection for Brazil, he has shown in deeds a true commitment to the indigenous peoples and to the Amazon, which we thank him for. It was very important the 2019 Amazon Synod“, highlights Oliveira. And he adds, “It would be a great honor” if the Pontiff visited the Amazon“just now that he has just appointed as cardinal the Archbishop of Manaus Leonardo Seteiner. Don Leonardo is the first cardinal of the Amazon. That is a great recognition for our fight in the forest.”
vote almost sung
In the days leading up to last week’s ballot Francis asked that Brazil free itself from “hate and lies”, an expression surely intended for Jair Bolsonaro. At the same time, he met in Rome with a delegation of bishops from São Paulo who sent him a document stating that Brazilian democracy is in danger and citing coup measures by the captain-president. The religious presented him with an image of the Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arnsthe late São Paulo archbishop remembered for having confronted the dictatorship and for having internationally denounced human rights violations.
Asked if the Pope would have voted for Lula or Bolsonaro, the Catholic leader Oliveira replied: “he cannot vote in our country but without a doubt he has a clear preference for Lula, there is no affinity with Bolsonaro.” Oliveira adds that Bergoglio had the “courage” to be the one who met Lula at the Vatican in February 2020, two months after the PT leader was released from prison for 580 days determined by the fraudulent judge Sergio Moro, to the latter Minister of Justice of Bolsonaro and recent adviser to the president in the electoral debates against Lula.
not to the blow
Francisco did not return to Brazil in 2017 for the celebrations of the Virgin of Aparecida due to the coup that removed Dilma in 2016, and he took pains to make his displeasure known with the emergency government headed by Michel Temer. Since 2019, relations between the Holy See and Brasilia have entered their “worst moment in years, President Bolsonaro did not even go to the canonization of Sister Dulce, chosen as the first Brazilian saint, and attacked the Amazon Synod, seeing it as if it were a threat to sovereignty,” says Oliveira.
The appointment of Archbishop Leonardo Steiner as cardinal, which occurred months ago “came at a very delicate moment for the indigenous peoples and for the Amazon, this gave us greater support institutionally speaking, and we know that this also helps Don Leonardo’s leadership, who he is a committed man, a Franciscan just like the Cardinal Claudius Hummeswho was the right hand of the Pope in the Amazon Synod”.
After Lula’s victory in the ballot there were more than 900 roadblocks throughout the country organized by activists dressed in yellow jerseys of the Brazilian team, a symbol of Bolsonarism. The extremists ignore the results of the elections, alleging fraud, and demand the intervention of the Armed Forces. The blockades began to be lifted from Wednesday when Bolsonaro – a possible instigator in the shadows of the insurgency – called for the “right to come and go” to be restored.
The last five blockades by coup militants continued this Saturday in the provinces of Pará and Mato Grosso, in the Amazon region. “The ranchers, the loggers, and the illegal garimpeiros (extractors of gold and other minerals, as well as diamonds) who are with Bolsonaro are very strong in Pará and Mato Grosso, and in other states of the Amazon such as Roraima, on the border with Venezuela, Rondônia and Acre”, reviews Oliveira. The current environmental and humanitarian crisis “is quite similar to what happened during the dictatorship,” says the Catholic leader and recommends reading the latest book by Frei Betto, “Tom vermelho not green”Red tone in green, according to a free translation.
Fear of a massacre
In the gigantic jungle of more than 4.5 million square kilometers, the campaign in favor of Bolsonaro’s re-election was “very clear” by the groups that “attack the indigenous population, invade their lands, those people benefited a lot from this government,” warns the CIMI secretary.
“I was in Pará, they told me that there would be an order to burn everything that can be invaded as much as possible. We have news that there are entire families leaving their communities to seek refuge, there is a rage encouraged by the government,” warns Oliveira. “We are fearing that there will be a massacre“.