The CELAM letter, in Spanish and Portuguese, published on Friday and addressed to Archbishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), underscores the "deep concern of the Church for the Brazilian people" at this time when the Covid-19 pandemic is having a disastrous impact due to spikes in the infected, caused especially by new virus variants.
The letter, signed by five members of the CELAM presidency, notes tragically that as of March 24 Brazil exceeded 300,000 deaths as a result of the disease, and in recent days more than 3,000 deaths in a 24 hour period. These fatalities have included five bishops and dozens of priests, religious men and women, and laity "committed to the mission of the Church", it notes, while the poorest are hardest hit, especially due to the great stress on the national health system.
Concern for the most vulnerable
The statement notes that "the absence of policies and public aid that favor the care and defense of life" has worsened the pandemic outcome, hurting vulnerable sectors of the population who are unable to find adequate treatment with the hospital resources stretched to the limit.
“On behalf of the bishops of the continent”, the CELAM presidency expresses its closeness and solidarity with the Brazilian bishops conference, “which has courageously denounced this delicate situation" while giving witness and calling attention to Gospel values and principles of the Church's social teachings. The letter notes in particular the Brazilian bishops support for the 'Pact for Life and Brazil' initiative that "seeks to respond to the serious health, economic, social and political crisis the country is going through", raising its voice prophetically along with others to call for vaccination rollouts and emergency aid, essential to save lives and support the struggling economy.