Brazil: Progressive Catholics Plead for the Impeachment of Jair Bolsonaro

February 10, 2021
Leonardo Boff

The Justice and Peace Committee of the Brazilian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CNBB) and Fr. Leonard Boff - famous promoter of liberation theology - are calling for the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro, for “negligence” in the management of the COVID-19 epidemic hitting the country.

On January 26, 2021, a motley group of religious went to the Chamber of Deputies to demand the removal of the President of the Brazilian Republic, Jair Bolsonaro. They named their gathering the Faith Front, Frente da fe in Portuguese.

Among them, representatives of the Justice and Peace Committee of the Brazilian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CNBB), as well as a delegation from the National Council of Christian Churches (CONIC) which brings together a good part of the Protestant nebula.

“We are aware that a number of our faithful are not in favor of our action, but it is important to underline the plurality and the contradictions that exist within the framework of Christianity. Christianity is not Bolsonarist en bloc,” declared “pastor” Romi Marcia Bencke, representative of CONIC, feminist in her spare time, and known to defend abortion: the representatives of the Brazilian episcopate could have chosen better company ...

The petitioners accuse the Brazilian head of state of having minimized the problem posed by the Covid-19 epidemic, and of having oscillated “irresponsibly, between denial, contempt, and sabotage of prevention policies and health care.” Worse, Jair Bolsonaro is accused of having implemented a “genocidal” policy: a hyperbolic epithet that is not likely to add to the credibility of the signatories.

“It is urgent that our country free itself from this policy which promotes death. This is why we are using a means founded on our Brazilian Constitution,” said Daniel Seidel, on behalf of the CNBB.

To give more weight to its initiative, the Faith Front roused from his retirement Fr. Leonard Boff, an 82-year-old Franciscan religious, considered one of the champions of liberation theology, an ideology condemned in 1984 by the Holy See.

At the time, Fr. Boff was a proponent of “Marxism and historical materialism in theology.” Since then much water has flowed under the bridges of the Tiber, and now the Argentine Pope sends his best wishes to the theologian whom he hails as a “brother.”

Regarding support for the Head of State, putting things into perspective: “we all know that these religious linked to the CNBB are of the left: their initiative is not surprising, we cannot expect anything else from left-wing opposition,” explains Bibo Nunes, deputy member of the Social-Liberal Party in power.

And the parliamentarian ironically added to the Faith Front’s address: “Let them ask, they will take their place in a long queue, and it will all go nowhere.”

It is very likely that the initiative does not intend to succeed, but the important thing is the process and the epithets that are produced. And it is undeniable that the approach is political rather than religious, but liberation theology has long confused the two orders and still does.