The Holy See, through the Apostolic Nuncio in Brazil, has asked Bishop Luiz Flavio Cappio of the Diocese of Barra to end “as soon as possible” the hunger strike he has been carrying out for 18 days.
Bishop Cappio began a hunger strike in protest against a decision by the government to divert the San Francisco River, which crosses the semi-arid region of Brazil, in order to bring water to northeastern Brazil, which is plagued by constant drought.
Recently, the bishop said he would continue his hunger strike until “the project is definitively cancelled…or until the ultimate consequences.” However, this past week the Apostolic Nuncio in Brazil, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, sent the bishop a letter asking him to end the hunger strike.
Bishop Cappio said the Nuncio’s letter was “friendly and fraternal, and showed concern for my health and requests me to interrupt my fast as soon as possible and return to the diocese.”
Bishop Cappio did not say whether he would heed the Vatican’s request, which is based on the Catholic teaching that it is immoral to put one’s life at risk for a cause that is political in nature and not related to the truths of the faith.
Brazil's council of bishops last week asked Catholics to unite for a day of fasting and prayer in solidarity with Cappio, but it also has urged him to end the strike, saying it had "already served to alert public opinion."
The San Francisco River runs through 500 Brazilian towns providing water to over 12 million people. The plan by President Luiz Lula da Silva is to divert the course of the river towards irrigation canals in order to foster development in the northeast, the poorest region of Brazil.