Brazil Needs an Economic Model That Is Humanized, Says Bishop

Interview with Auxiliary Filippo Santoro of Rio

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RIO DE JANEIRO, OCT. 10, 2002 (ZENIT.orgAvvenire).- Auxiliary Bishop Filippo Santoro is responsible for the Rio de Janeiro Archdiocese’s pastoral care of the political realm, and a member of the Doctrine Commission of the Brazilian bishops’ conference.

Here, the bishop who has spent 18 of his 54 years in Rio explains his view of the present political situation in Brazil.

Q: How do you explain the victory of Luis Ignacio “Lula” da Silva, candidate of the Workers’ Party (PT) in the first round of the presidential elections?

Bishop Santoro: The candidate of the left has attracted the votes of protest, of discontent — not so much against a political or economic model — as against the inability of the government to administer and manage the immense resources and enormous riches of Brazil.

It is important to distinguish between the model, which is harshly criticized, and the management, which is directly responsible for its failure.

Q: Yet the economic model is on the bench of the accused throughout Latin America. What is the recipe to save it?

Bishop Santoro: The strategy, first of all, is to humanize it. As the doctrine of the Church says, it must be at the service of the person and the common good, rather than of a minority that accumulates money thinking of its personal interests. Mexico is an example of how it is possible to improve.

Q: What has been the present government’s greatest error in Brazil?

Bishop Santoro: Certainly that of not having carried out the social and administrative reforms, especially those connected to social matters and taxation, which were imperative for the harmonious growth of the country.

President Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s second term leaves much to be desired. Agrarian reform, which would have generated hundreds of jobs, has also been put to one side. Today there still are 33 million people in Brazil who suffer hunger. Just 6% have risen above the poverty line.

The middle class has been impoverished. Only the upper class has benefited from the economic stability and the end of hyperinflation.

Q: Can we believe in Lula’s moderate image and tone?

Bishop Santoro: Lula describes himself as a revolutionary. However, in a globalized world like the present one, the economic model leaves little margin for alternatives.

Corrective measures can be introduced, of course. However, the alliances that Lula has made demonstrate profound political inconsistency. He has accepted the support of the Liberal Party, which in Brazil represents the right made up, in part, of wealthy businessmen.

The allies of the radical-Marxist left, who make up Lula’s coalition, might turn out to be less dangerous than these unnatural alliances for the stability of the future government.

Q: And, what is Lula’s position on the most important moral principles of the Catholic Church?

Bishop Santoro: There are no significant differences. All the candidates have maintained, for example, respect for the existing legislation on abortion, which is allowed in the case of rape or a threat to a woman’s life. From a moral point of view, they are all against the line of the Church. Lula, however, makes it a question of principle; for him, abortion should be free.

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