Defending Life in Brazil's Elections (Part 2)
Interview With Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, AUG. 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- When defending life, one can't straddle the fence, says the auxiliary bishop of Rio de Janeiro.
With Brazil's presidential elections one month away, Bishop Dimas Lara Barbosa states that life issues must become key points for voters and politicians to consider, especially for Catholics.
In part 2 of this three-part interview with ZENIT, Bishop Barbosa outlines the challenges that life issues in Brazil will face in the upcoming elections. Part 1 appeared Monday.
Q: Should voters take issues of life and the family into consideration when electing their president, senators, federal deputies, state deputies and governors?
Bishop Lara: Undoubtedly. In the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, a booklet has been published called the "Responsible Vote," in which this topic is explicitly addressed.
Also the Brazilian bishops' conference, in a document entitled "Elections 2006," said that defending life is one of the "great options of the National Project," to be implemented after the forthcoming elections.
The bishops of Brazil, in harmony with the great tradition of the Church, request that "the elected constituted powers -- at all levels -- reject any plan that attempts against the family or the dignity of human life," especially in what it states regarding the legalization of abortion and euthanasia.
It is the responsibility of the public health systems and services to guarantee the health conditions owed to women and children. And, moreover, "The first criterion to vote for a candidate is his position regarding the defense of the dignity and life of the human person, in all its manifestations, from conception until his natural end with death (cf. "Elections 2006," p. 39).
Q: What other criteria should Catholic faithful have when it comes to electing candidates?
Bishop Lara: In this respect, I recall some guidelines of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro.
First, the personal history of the candidate should be known, what he has done in previous mandates; one should discover the causes he embraced, whether or not he was involved in scandals or frauds, if he maintains contacts with ease with the voters or if he neglects them after being elected.
Another good way is to see who supports the candidate; and the origin of the financial resources of his campaign.
Some candidates perhaps have been involved in different crimes, including murders, robberies, active and passive corruption, drug trafficking, gang formation. Some might have been sentenced in the first instance and have appealed to higher courts. Common sense calls for avoiding such candidates with absolute firmness.
There are several cases of politicians buying votes. They do so, for example, through works carried out at the end of their mandates. Some promise employment, guarantee posts.
Law 9840, the result of popular initiative, in which the Brazilian episcopal conference played an essential part, was passed to stop vote buying.
The punishment is the annulment of the candidate's registration, affected shortly before the election or the offender's appointment. In Brazil, there are inspection committees. Every community and every voter should know where this local committee is located and take an active part in it.
Although in the present Brazilian political framework, the value due to political parties is lacking, it is indispensable to identify the party to which the candidate is affiliated.
A politician can vote on his own on issues of minor importance, but he must vote with his party on those issues that really affect the life of the people.
To these reflections I add, moreover, that there are many people who use religion to become rich, exploiting people's good faith. Others dare to use religion to affirm that they are God's candidates. Some say they are religious, practicing Catholics, but we only see them in church during electoral periods.
One should always ask what the candidate's position is on religious issues. Does he show respect? Does he try to take advantage to win the election? Does he disdain, criticize and even attack the Catholic Church, either by destroying images, as already happened in the past, or by imitating, at times defaming and slandering?
Q: In your opinion, is there an international movement to promote abortion in Latin America? What are the real interests behind the promotion of abortion in Brazil?
Bishop Lara: First, it is important to recall the famous National Security Study Memorandum 200, known as the "Kissinger Report," especially chapter 5, on the "Implications of Population Pressures for National Security."
This confidential document, produced by Henry Kissinger's team in 1974 and de-classified by the White House in 1989, exhibits concern over the increase in the world population and proposes policies and strategies to be implemented by the United States for the reduction of the population of developing countries.
In addition to recommending several means of "family planning," among them the sterilization of men and women, the document states that "no country has reduced the increase of its population without taking recourse to abortion."
In that context, Brazil is mentioned as one of the "13 key countries" to exercise such population control.
However, that document is only the tip of the iceberg. Currently there are various population projects in Brazil, a lot of lobbying of the National Congress, and an enormous quantity of money injected in projects by powerful entities, such as the Ford and MacArthur Foundations.
Q: Is an "abortion mentality" being created in Brazil?
Bishop Lara: Unfortunately, yes. There is an organized, systematic plan to undermine people's consciences. The anti-abortion feeling is still strong among the people. Hence, the recourse to particularly painful situations, for which false solutions are indicated. This was the case of the legalization of abortion in cases of risk to the mother's life or rape.
Then there was the famous case before the Federal Supreme Court that claimed the right to abortion in cases of "anencephaly." The expression itself is inadequate, given that it is not a question of total brain absence but the lack of development of part of the brain. The more adequate term would be mere-anencephaly, or partial anencephaly.
Equally grave was the approval of the Bio-security Law by the National Congress, and the sanction by the president.
That law mixes absolutely disparate arguments -- transgenic food security and use of embryos in scientific research. Its approval was the scene of a real manipulation of data and concepts around embryonic stem cells, with strong emotional appeal, above all among people with deficiencies, falsely encouraged with promises that the use of frozen embryos might cure their ailments.
All that, not to mention the systematic work of the so-called Catholics for the Right to Decide -- who are not Catholics, but who infiltrate themselves among Catholics to confuse people -- and of other NGOs and interest groups.