Brazil – What it means to be good Christians and upright citizens amid pandemics, poverty and inequalities

06 August 2021

(ANS - Recife) - That Brazil is one of the countries most severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic is no mystery. To date, 6 August, there are over 20 million infected and more than 560 thousand victims. But beyond the health tragedy there are also the growing economic and social difficulties, which have worsened a situation that was already serious from the start. Fr João Carlos Ribeiro, SDB, Vicar of the "St Luigi Gonzaga" Province of Brazil-Recife, shared his reflection on the subject.

It is sad to see people again scavenging for leftover food in the garbage, begging in doorways or at traffic lights, standing in lines to receive some donation.

Two years ago, there were 9 million Brazilians in this condition. The number of hungry people has increased: there are now 19 million. With the pandemic, unemployment has increased, the price of food has risen and poverty has grown. But hunger is not a child of the pandemic. It only got fatter with it.

Hunger is the child of income concentration. A minority concentrates the wealth of the country. For this group, there are no bad times. Suffice it to say that while poverty is growing in the country, exports and the balance of trade are doing very well, thank you very much. And this elite defends itself well through its representatives at all levels.

It is sad to see, in reports, people queuing up at the door of the butcher's shop to receive bone donations, to guarantee something to eat at home. And even sadder is to realize that this situation of hunger is not a problem for those who should face it or, at least, reduce it. And, of course, it is not only a matter of financial aid. It is about employment policy, protection of workers' rights, access to land, and much more.

It is in this context that many groups, communities and institutions are moving to help these families in some way. It may be a soup kitchen, a packed lunch, a basket of basic food items or, who knows, help with a bottle of gas. At this time, all help is welcome. In fact, many of those who are donating have little themselves. And this is the noblest gesture of all: sharing. Sharing is whoever takes a share from their own and gives it to others.

It is true that, at this moment, even those who have a little more are opening their hands generously. Thank God! We do not deserve to be called Christians if we are not in solidarity with those in need. Nor will we be good citizens if we stand with our arms folded before the causes of so much suffering, so much humiliation.

Father João Carlos Ribeiro




ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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