The secretary general of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of Brazil, Bishop Dimas Lara Barbosa, and the spokesman for the Brazilian president, Gilberto Carvalho, are denying reports that President Lula da Silva threatened to revise the accords with the Vatican if Church leaders continued to question Workers’ Party candidate Dilma Rousseff’s stance on abortion.
In an article published by the newspaper O Globo, Carvalho denied a report several weeks ago by the Italian news agency ANSA that claimed the president had made the statements.
According to O Globo, Bishop Dimas Lara said, “I have received nothing on this. I was surprised by the news. There was no threat.”
“That would be the last thing somebody would say during the middle of the presidential campaign,” he added.
The newspaper noted that the accords between Brazil and the Holy See “were signed by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 and govern legal aspects of the Catholic Church in the country, including tax-exemption, freedom of religion and religious education in public schools.”
ANSA had reported that the Brazilian government threatened to reassess the accords if Church leaders continued to question Workers’ Party presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff’s stance on abortion. It cited the Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico as the source of the story.
Dilma Rousseff has voiced her support for legalized abortion on various occasions. Her position cost her some seven million votes in the first round of Brazil’s 2010 presidential elections. As part of her strategy for the Oct. 31 run-off vote, she said she was “personally opposed to abortion” and promised that if she is elected, she would not sent proposals to legalize the practice to Congress. Her change in stance has not convinced Brazilian pro-lifers.