By Devin Watkins
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Brazil is holding its 58th General Assembly in a virtual format this week.
Pope Francis sent a video message to the gathering of Church leaders on Thursday, which he intended as a message for “all Brazilians.”
The Pope said Brazil is undergoing “one of the most difficult trials in its history.”
He opened his message expressing his closeness to the hundreds of thousands of families who have lost a loved one due to Covid-19.
“Young people and elderly, fathers and mothers, health care providers and volunteers, Church ministers, the rich and the poor,” he said, “the pandemic has not left anyone untouched in its trail of suffering.”
Brazil has confirmed over 13.6 million coronavirus cases and more than 361,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Without saying good-bye
Pope Francis said he particularly recalls the Bishops who have died from Covid-19.
“I ask God to grant eternal rest to those who have died and to console the suffering hearts of their family members who were often unable to say good-bye to their loved ones,” he said.
And he added that losing someone without the possibility of saying farewell is one of the “greatest sufferings of both those who leave and those who remain.”
Hope in Christ’s Resurrection
The Pope went on to remind Brazil’s Bishops, and all those suffering, that the Easter message of Jesus’ death and resurrection is one of victory of life over death.
“The Easter proclamation renews the hope of our hearts: We cannot surrender!” he said. “Christ has conquered death! Let us renew our hope that life will conquer!”
Pope Francis said our faith in Christ shows us that we can overcome this difficult moment.
Charity, he added, urges the Church’s ministers to “cry with those who cry, and to give others a hand, especially those most in need, so that a smile might return to their faces.”
He said the pandemic and its consequences can be overcome, but only if everyone remains united. “The Bishops’ Conference must be one in this moment, because the people who suffer are one,” he said.
Reconciliation in unity
Pope Francis then recalled his visit to Brazil in 2013 and the message of reconciliation promoted by the nation’s patroness, Our Lady of Aparecida.
Reconciliation, he said, is the mission of the Church in Brazil. “And to that end, we must put aside divisions,” he added.
The Pope again urged Brazil’s Bishops to remain united, so that they can help all of Brazil overcome the pandemic and “the virus of indifference, which is born of egoism and generates social injustice.”
Caring for one another
The Pope admitted that the challenge is daunting, but reminded everyone that the Lord “walks with us.”
“In Jesus, we find our foundation, our strength, and our unity,” he said.
And Pope Francis concluded his video message to the Bishops and people of Brazil by imploring Our Lady of Aparecida to help them be “custodians of the good and the lives of others, and promoters of fraternity.”
“To each of you, dear brother Bishops, to the faithful entrusted to your care, and to all who live in Brazil,” he concluded, “I give my heartfelt Blessing.”