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Pope Francis to Brazil's bishops: the Risen Christ is 'our strength, our unity'

Pope Francis at his general audience address in the library of the Apostolic Palace April 7, 2021. Pope Francis at his general audience address in the library of the Apostolic Palace April 7, 2021./ Vatican Media.

Pope Francis on Thursday encouraged Brazil’s bishops to be united to each other and to their faith in the risen Christ, who will help them get through the COVID-19 situation in their country.

“Our faith in the risen Christ shows us that we can get through this tragic moment. Our hope gives us courage to get up. Charity urges us to cry with those who cry and to give a hand, especially to those most in need, so that they smile again,” Pope Francis said in an April 15 video message to the general assembly of the Brazilian bishops’ conference.

“It is possible to overcome the pandemic, it is possible to overcome its consequences. But we will only succeed if we are united,” he added.

Brazil has had over 13.6 million total coronavirus cases, and is ranked third in the world for number of cases, after the United States and India.

The health secretary of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s wealthiest and most populous state, has warned that a collapse of the healthcare system “is imminent,” as cases surge in the country, and the supply of intubation drugs to sedate patients is expected to run out, according to Reuters.

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Brazil has recorded almost 362,000 deaths due to the virus.

In his video message to Brazil’s bishops, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to those mourning the loss of a loved one.

“Young and old, fathers and mothers, doctors and volunteers, holy ministers, rich and poor: the pandemic has excluded no one in its wake of suffering,” he said.

He noted that some bishops in Brazil have died from COVID-19.

“I ask God to grant the deceased eternal rest and to give comfort to the afflicted hearts of the relatives, who many times have not even been able to say goodbye to their loved ones,” the pope said.

Pope Francis also emphasized that the “proclamation of the victory of the Lord Jesus over death and sin still resonates among us. The Easter announcement is an announcement that renews hope in our hearts: we cannot give up!”

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“As we sing in the Easter Sunday Sequence: ‘Life and death fought in a singular battle / and when life is dead, he rises triumphant,’” he said. “Yes, dear brothers and sisters, the one who has succeeded is by our side! Christ has conquered! He has conquered death! Let us renew the hope that life will triumph!”

The pope recalled something he said during his visit to Brazil in 2013, when he referred to the story of Our Lady of Aparecida.

“I commented that this image that was found broken could serve as a symbol of the Brazilian reality,” he said.

Quoting his 2013 speech to Brazil’s bishops, he said, “What was separated regains unity ... In Aparecida, from the beginning, God gives us a message of recomposing what is separated, of reuniting what is divided. The walls, ravines and distances, which also exist today, are destined to disappear. The Church cannot neglect this lesson: the Church must be an instrument of reconciliation.”

The mission of the Church in Brazil is to be an instrument of reconciliation and unity, Francis stated, urging the bishops to put aside their divisions and disagreements.

“It is necessary to find ourselves in the essential. With Christ, through Christ and in Christ, in order to be able to rediscover ‘the unity of the Spirit with the bond of peace (Eph 4,3),’” he said.

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He said only by uniting themselves with Christ will pastors be able to inspire the Catholic faithful, other Christians, and all men and women of goodwill.

“Always Jesus! There is our base, our strength, our unity.”

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