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Defending Life in Brazil's Elections (Part 2)

Interview With Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, AUG. 29, 2006 (Zenit) - 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 Catholic Online, Bishop Barbosa outlines the challenges that life issues in Brazil will face in the upcoming elections.

Part 1 appeared Monday on Catholic Online.

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 ...

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