Bishop Ferreira of Brazil: How to work towards social equality

January 26, 2021

The Vale mining dam collapse in January 2019 killed 270 people in Brumadinho, Brazil, and about 125 hectares of forests, or enough to cover 125 soccer fields, were lost.
Photo: Estadão/Giazi Cavalcante.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’” (Matthew 25:34)

“Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope” (LS 244).

Neoliberal capitalism imposes many wounds on our world. It causes the fabric of our global culture to suffer so many tears that it no longer accepts patches.

We regularly hear the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth, and we struggle to dream of a healthy body on a sick planet.

Bishop Vicente de Paula Ferreira

With the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, however, Pope Francis clearly shows us the urgency of transforming this world from civilization of death to a culture of fraternity and friendship.

Destruction to creation must cause us indignation, such as those hideous social and environmental crimes that the mining company Vale committed in Mariana and Brumadinho, Brazil, and the many other aggressions that have been done to our planet.

In Brazil, the current government has not done enough to protect our biomes and has irresponsibly supported extractivism that thinks only about profit.

In the case of Brumadinho, the possible agreement between Vale and the state makes very clear that whoever kills is not judged and is not responsible for the crime. It hurts too much to know that this is not an isolated case, but a systematic way of acting.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown, even more, the depth of the wounds of our time. That is why we are called, as Christians and people of good will, to assume our vocation as partners of God in the shepherding of every created work.

And we will not be able to do this if we do not assume a simpler lifestyle and contribute to the strengthening of countless networks of resistance in the face of a system that kills, chooses, and demands.

We praise the attitudes of the church in Brazil, with so many initiatives in the struggle to protect human life and nature. Through the Special Commission of Integral Ecology and Mining and other entities, the church is increasingly committed to an ecological conversion for all.

We are all brothers and sisters, and we inhabit a common home. It is an essential criterion for the revolution that we dream of that no one is left out and that we take good care of our collective dwelling.

If we demand a vaccine for all and free of charge, which is very important in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not forget that we also have to fight so that each person has land, shelter, and work.

Social inequality is an absurd reality that damages our culture. The poor are our judges. They participate in our destiny here, and they will at the end of time when the Lord says, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father” (Matthew 25:34).

Let us strengthen our struggle for justice and seek to build paths of integral ecology.

“Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope” (LS 244).

Read more about the cry of the Earth in Brazil

Bishop Vicente de Paula Ferreira is the Secretary of the Special Commission on Integral Ecology and Mining for the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil and also the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte and Brumadinho.

Receive moving reflections and stories like this in your inbox. Join the movement to care for creation!

.

Bishop Vicente de Paula Ferreira is the Secretary of the Special Commission on Integral Ecology and Mining for the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil and also the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte and Brumadinho.

Reflection questions

  1. What are the main socio-environmental challenges your community/region faces, and what initiatives already exist?
  2. As we start a new year, what commitments can you and your community make to truly respond to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor?

The above reflection and reflection questions were adapted from the January Laudato Si’ Resource. The spiritual resource is produced monthly for Laudato Si’ Animators, Laudato Si’ Circles, and everyday Catholics to use and help them grow closer to our Creator.

You can find the entire resource, as well as past editions, here. Have an idea for a future resource or blog post? Email us.