The National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Brazil has announced it is standing behind Bishop Luiz Gonzaga Bergonzini of Guarulhos. The bishop recently received death threats for speaking out against the pro-abortion stance of the Workers’ Party as the country prepares to hold presidential runoff elections.
Bishop Bergonzini’s criticism of the Workers’ Party—to which Brazilian President Lula da Silva and presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff belong—have made him the target of anonymous death threats.
Two other bishops, Benedito Beni Dos Santos of Lorena and Bishop Nelson Westrupp of Santo Andre, have also received death threats for similar statements.
The president and the secretary general of the bishops' conference, respectively Bishop Lyrio Rocha and Bishop Dimas Lara Barbosa, told reporters that the conference does not endorse parties or candidates, but rather provides guidance for Christian voters as they go to the polls.
Bishop Rocha offered praise for Bishop Bergonzini and said, “His actions are what the Church expects. He has the right and duty, according to his conscience, to guide the faithful” in deciding which candidates to support.
“He is exercising his right as diocesan bishop of Guarulhos and each time he has spoken within his competency, and he has not addressed the entire Brazilian nation. This manner of acting is absolutely normal and the way in which things take place in the Church,” he added.
Rousseff, the frontrunner in Brazil's Oct. 31 runoff presidential elections, has voiced support for the legalization of abortion on numerous occasions. Her stance cost her seven million votes during the first round of voting in the presidential elections. Faced with a runoff, she has said she is personally opposed to abortion and has promised not to send proposals to Congress to legalize the practice. Pro-life activists, however, have warned that these statements are a mere attempt to hide her true stance on the issue.