SAO PAULO (CNS) — Stating that Brazil’s federal government displayed contempt for protecting the health of the population and showed criminal conduct, 380 Brazilian Christian religious leaders filed an impeachment request against President Jair Bolsonaro for the crime of shirking his responsibilities.
“Faced with the most serious public health crisis in the history of the country and the planet, the president of the republic, irresponsibly, oscillated between denialism, contempt and assumed sabotage of the prevention and health care policies of Brazilian citizens,” read part of the document presented to Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies Jan. 26.
According to the document, since the beginning of the pandemic, Bolsonaro has sought to discredit renowned national scientific institutions, held back resources meant to fight the virus, and encouraged the population to use medication, such as chloroquine, which has no proven efficacy to cope with the disease.
The president, say religious leaders, has also mocked basic health recommendations to fight COVID-19.
“There is a contempt for the use of masks and social distancing and, until recently, a disregard for vaccines,” Bishop Jose Santos Mendes of Brejo, president of the Brazilian bishops’ social action commission, told Catholic News Service.
Bishop Mendes was one of four bishops who signed the petition.
“We signed the request in view of the situation we are currently living, under a pandemic, with the inertia and the denialism sentiment of the (federal) government,” he said.
Bishop Mendes said authority figures have a certain weight in society and, when they disrespect rules and recommendations and discourage such things as wearing masks and social distancing, it has an effect on the population.
“What we do and say is followed and copied. If we don’t put forth clear messages, it hurts society as a whole,” he added.
Although Bishop Mendes said Christian groups and leaders have been discussing the pandemic crisis, it was the recent deaths in the Amazon city of Manaus, due to lack of oxygen canisters in hospitals, that led religious leaders to decide to speak out.
“There comes a time when we must do something concrete; we need to do something to defend and preserve life,” he said.
Although only four bishops signed the petition, there were many other Catholic religious who asked the Brazilian Congress to open proceedings to impeach the country’s top leader.
“It is unacceptable for this government to be so slow and so incompetent. What happened in Manaus can happen in other cities in the country,” said Capuchin Father Marcelo Toyansk Guimarães, ecclesiastical adviser to the Commission of Justice and Peace of the Capuchin Franciscans and one of the petition signers.
The situation must be faced with more responsibility and more seriousness, he said, noting that Bolsonaro mocked the pandemic with statements like “Everyone will die someday.”
“Everywhere life is threatened, we need to take a more serious stance,” said Bishop Mendes. “The commitment must come from all of us.”
Since the pandemic began, more than 60 petitions have been filed in Congress for Bolsonaro’s impeachment. The petition must be approved by the Lower House before going to a vote in the Senate.
Brazil has impeached two presidents in recent times, Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992 and Dilma Rousseff 2016.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Fight against climate change can’t be done alone, cardinal says
NEXT: Kenyan Catholics add ‘classrooms’ under trees in response to pandemic
Share this story