11 January 2023, The Tablet

Brazilian bishops condemn attack on government buildings

The events echoed Trump supporters' attack on the US Capitol in 2021, almost exactly two years earlier.

Brazilian bishops condemn attack on government buildings

A supporter of the former president Jair Bolsonaro holds and image of the Virgin Mary during the attack on government buildings in Brasília.
DPA Picture Alliance/Alamy

The bishops’ conference of Brazil (CNBB) has condemned the invasion of the nation’s government building by a mob of supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro.

The attack took place on 8 January when hundreds of protestors who refuse to accept Bolsonaro’s defeat in the recent presidential election forced their way into the building, which hosts the congress, presidential palace and the supreme court.

The events echoed similar acts by Trump supporters in 2021, almost exactly two years earlier.

Besides vandalism, some protestors are said to have stolen documents and even weapons from inside the building, before military police managed to bring the situation back under control.

Reacting to the events, the CNBB issued a swift condemnation, pleading for respect for democracy in South America’s largest country.

“The CNBB calls for calm, peace, and an immediate end to criminal attacks against democratic law and order”, the statement said.

It continued: “These attacks should immediately be contained and their organisers and participants held accountable to the full extent of the law. Citizens and democracy must be protected.”

Brazil has seen tension rise over the past few years as its political scene becomes more polarised.

Jair Bolsonaro was elected on an anti-corruption and pro-traditional values platform, with massive support from the mostly evangelical Christian right.

The Catholic Church in Brazil has largely managed to avoid being caught up in politics.

Bolsonaro lost the recent election to Lula da Silva, a leading trade unionist who has been president before but was convicted on corruption charges in 2018, and spent over a year in prison before his release.

The situation in Brazil was touched upon by Pope Francis in his 9 January speech to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

“In many areas, a sign of the weakening of democracy is heightened political and social polarisation, which does not help to resolve the urgent problems of citizens,” he said.

“I think of the various countries of the Americas where political crises are laden with tensions and forms of violence that exacerbate social conflicts. In particular, I would mention recent events in Peru and in the latest hours in Brazil.”

He added that “there is a constant need to overcome partisan ways of thinking and to work for the promotion of the common good”.

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