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Defending Life in Brazil's Elections (Part 1)

Interview With Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, AUG. 28, 2006 (Zenit) - When defending life, one can't straddle the fence, says the auxiliary bishop of Rio de Janeiro.

With Brazil's presidential elections two months away, Bishop Dimas Lara Barbosa states that life issues must become key points for voters and politicians to consider, especially for Catholics.

In this three-part interview with Catholic Online, bishop Barbosa outlines the challenges that life issues in Brazil will face in the upcoming elections.

* * *

Q: The Web site of the Workers Party, the party of the current president and candidate for reelection Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leans toward supporting a woman's right to abortion. How should Catholics react to this?

Bishop Lara: I think that the topic of the defense of the human person's dignity, from conception until his natural death, is becoming ever more urgent for Christians.

Questions such as abortion and euthanasia have become a point of division for the Catholic electorate itself, and for all those who guarantee and defend the sacredness of human life. It is no longer possible to straddle the fence.

There are several possible fronts of action here. First, a wide awareness campaign is necessary to educate people on the reality that the unborn is an authentic human being from conception, when all the genetic programming is defined.

It is not the Church that says this. It is not the obstinacy of ultra-conservative religious. It was science itself that came to this conclusion. This is found in all good embryology treatises.

Beyond that, it is necessary to struggle for authentic public policies that defend the woman, especially expectant mothers.

That includes adequate pre-natal care. This system already exists, for example, in the St. Francis Hospital and Maternity in Jacarei, Sao Paulo.

Also needed is the distribution, in appropriate doses, of folic acid, a powerful agent in the prevention of anencephaly and other malformations and a social, psychological and religious support system for mothers going through an unwanted pregnancy, that could be the result of rape or violence, or whose pregnancy is high-risk.

Q: Should the defense of life be an imperative for representatives of the people, given that life is a natural right?

Bishop Lara: Absolutely. That is why I said that the defense of life has become a point of division for the electorate. Given the disrepute of politics and politicians, in these elections we should, literally, sweep from the National Congress all those who have already taken an inadequate position on this topic.

Several movements in defense of life, supported by the Brazilian bishops' conference, prepared a questionnaire that should be given to every candidate, so that he can take a position in writing on the issue of abortion and euthanasia.

And that position must be made public by all means at our disposal.

Moreover, it is urgent to sweep many others from Congress who do not respond to the people's aspirations. Why should we vote for a candidate who is involved in scandals?

That would be irresponsible on our part. A vote is priceless: It has consequences!

Q: Are we seeing a clear favorable position on abortion by the party of the government?

Bishop Lara: There is no doubt that a considerable group exists within the Worker's Party that is favorable to an alleged "right of abortion." That group is extremely organized. On the other hand, it is important to recognize that not everyone in the party would agree on that issue.

There are parliamentarians in the Worker Party that work directly in the Parliamentary Front in Defense of Life.

They were even harassed in the recent motion to promote abortion rights presented by Women's National Secretariat, with the support of the National Secretariat to Combat Racism, and approved by the majority of the delegates of the 13th National Meeting of the Workers Party.

In that motion, Worker Party "parliamentarians who participate in the Parliamentary Front in Defense of Life Against Abortion were asked to withdraw their names from that movement," which caused strong reactions by defenders of life.

The majority of the party's militants, however, remain in solemn indifference to this question. They continue to support "partners" who are combative militants for the "right to abortion," alleging that those persons have other projects of high public and social interest.

That reminded me of Herod, the Great: He was gifted with superior political and military talents. He built and enlarged the Temple of Jerusalem. Sadly, he would not even spare a child if his power was threatened ... (cf. Matthew 2:14).

Q: What should the voter do when voting for candidates whose party may not actually favor abortion, but is maybe leaning toward it?

Bishop Lara: Those favoring abortion, unfortunately, are present in almost all the parties.

What is important is that each voter makes an effort to know, with the greatest possible certainty, what his candidate thinks, in fact, on the issue.

Part 2 of this interview will appear on Tuesday


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Life, Brazil, Barbosa, Abortion

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