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    Brazil's Catholic Church is considered a potential threat to the far-right Bolsonaro government. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 February 2019

Brazil’s far-right government is threatened by the Catholic Church for their concerns of the Amazon, Indigenous people, and basic human rights.

Brazil’s far-right government of President Jair Bolsonaro believes that the Catholic Church is a threat, based on Brazilian intelligence reports saying that they could become the leader of the left in the face of a power vacuum within Brazilian leftist organization. Brazil’s Catholic churches have traditionally allied with the Worker’s Party (PT).

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The Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin) and military commands alerted the government of this so-called threat. The report by the agency talked about recent meetings of Brazilian cardinals with Pope Francisco in the Vatican to discuss the holding of a Synod (religious assembly). The Synod will bring together bishops from all continents in Rome in October.

For 23 days, the Vatican will discuss the degrading condition of the Amazon and other issues like Indigenous people, climate change, etc., that is considered to be part of a “leftist agenda” by the current far-right government.

"We are worried and we want to neutralize it," said Augusto Heleno, chief minister of the Institutional Security Office (GSI).

Based on the report circulating at the Brazilian presidential palace (Planalto), the GSI concluded that some sectors of the Church are allying with social movements and left-wing parties and they want to use the Synod to criticize Bolsonaro’s government and gain international impact.

"We think this is interference in Brazil's internal affairs," Heleno said.

Offices of Abin in Manaus and Boa Vista (monitoring the presence of foreigners in the Yanomami Indigenous lands) are being mobilized to accompany preparatory meetings for the Synod in parishes and dioceses.

GSI also obtained information from the Amazon Military Command, based in Manaus which said that the federal government will urge governors, mayors, and even ecclesiastical authorities who maintain good relations with the administration, especially in the border regions, to reinforce their attempt to neutralize the Synod.

The GSI plans to monitor discussions abroad and the Ministry of the Environment will detect the possible participation of NGOs and environmentalists.  

Another official of Bolsonaro administration, under the condition of anonymity, said that the Synod is against "all" government policy toward the Amazon — which advocates defending the "sovereignty" of the region. "The meeting will serve to intensify the ideological discourse of the left," he said.


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