Brazilian Catholics face the Bolsonaro challenge

Since the election of Jair Bolsonaro, the Catholic Church is in crisis in Brazil. While progressive priests denounce government policy, fundamentalists are moving closer to the highest levels of power.

Time to Reading 13 min.

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Father Gegê in front of the church of the prophet São Daniel, built by the architect Oscar Niemeyer, in a favela north of Rio de Janeiro. SEBASTIAN LIST / NOOR FOR "M THE MAGAZINE OF THE WORLD"

And suddenly, in the middle of Mass, Father Gegê interrupts. "Now the conversation will begin! " said the 52-year-old black colossus, officiating at the church of the prophet São Daniel of Rio de Janeiro. "In your opinion, why are religious and non-religious groups opposed to the synod (dedicated to the Amazon and organized at the Vatican from October 6 to 27) ? " Laughs, murmurs, hubbub.

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A parishioner, blue marcel and ponytail, gets up and takes the microphone: "Deforestation has been around for a long time! All this is the fault of capitalism, of all those people who think only of money! " She says. Another lady interrupts, not quite agree. Sitting on a wooden bench among his flock, the curate listens, watches the exchanges, before concluding, in his beautiful deep voice: "The marginalized are the hope of the Church! "

"Many people in Manguinhos voted Bolsonaro. And not bad do not come to my Mass because of my political orientations. Father Gegê, parish priest of São Daniel Church

Pretty much, it's like being in a leftist general assembly. And yet, this October 13, it is indeed a Sunday service that we attend. Here, in the favela of Manguinhos, faith is a political act, as evidenced by the history of places. Inaugurated in 1960, the São Daniel is a project of Oscar Niemeyer, the architect builder of Brasilia, who has never denied his communist convictions. A symbol and a syncretism: the building has the round shape of a host and the red walls, the color of the revolution.

Inside, on a painting, we have pinned quotations "cathos of left", including a famous of Dom Hélder Câmara, the "bishop of the shantytowns", world famous: "When I gave food to the poor, I was called a saint. When I asked why they are poor, I was called a communist. "

But at the beginning of summer carioca, in this poor and violent favela north of Rio, glorious times seem far away. The roof of the chapel is patched with a little sheet metal. Victims of weather and termites, the walls crumble visibly. And the beautiful stained glass windows at the inauguration have disappeared for ages.


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