By Lisa Zengarini
With so much need for hope and comfort, the Brazilian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CNBB) is calling for a special day of prayer and remembrance as a tribute to the many Brazilians who have died and to highlight the message that "every life counts".
Special Masses for the dead
The initiative, which is co-sponsored by other organizations, will be celebrated on June 19. On that day every Brazilian diocese will be holding a special Mass for the Dead.
All churches and parishes across the country are also invited to ring their bells at 3.00 p.m., the Hour of Mercy when Jesus died on the Cross. Moreover, special commemorative cards will be shared on social networks and Catholic media will broadcast a video with a special prayer.
A gesture of solidarity, hope and commitment
The General Secretary of the CNBB, Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro, Joel Portella Amado, explained the initiative is meant to be “a gesture of solidarity, hope and commitment to make Brazil a better country”.
According to the Bishop, all people with "some sensitivity in their hearts" should stop for a moment to reflect and meditate, “because 500 thousand is a symbolic but striking number: half a million dead is really a lot,” he said.
Prayers and demonstrations are therefore a way of showing closeness and solidarity to all those who have been infected by the virus and to the families who have lost their loved ones due to the shortcomings of the health system, the delays in the vaccination campaign and the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and measures such as masks and social distancing.
This day of prayer, he added, offers everybody, "whether they believe or not", the opportunity “to stop, think and reflect” on what has happened.
Criticism of the pandemic mismanagement
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 and especially after the upsurge of the disease, the Brazilian Church has repeatedly criticized the mismanagement of the crisis, the widespread denial of its seriousness in some sectors of Brazilian society and the politicization and ideologization of the pandemic, calling on the federal government to enact a more effective response and stricter measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently minimized the gravity of the disease and refused stricter protective measures. Currently, 10% of the population has been vaccinated.