I wish I did not have to write this article. But the acute current political crisis and abuse committed in God’s name, call on theology’s public function. As any other field, theology also has a social responsibility. There are times when the theologian must descend from his perch and say a few words in the political arena. That means denouncing abuses and announcing good actions, even though this role of a theologian can be misunderstood by some groups or viewed as partisan, which is not.
I am humbled to find myself following in the tradition of such prophetic Bishops as Dom Helder Camara, of Cardinals Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns (let’s remember, Brazil Never Again, the book that helped overthrow the dictatorship), and Dom Aloysio Lorscheider, Bishop Dom Waldir Calheiros, and others who in the dark days of the 1964 military dictatorship had the courage to raise their voices in defense of human rights, and against the disappearances and tortures carried out by agents of the State.
We are now living in a country torn by visceral hatreds, accusations by some against others, with the lowest kind of language and plenty of fake news, spread even by the highest authority of the country, the current President. That way he demonstrates the lack of composure in his high office and disastrous consequences of his interventions, as well as the absurdities he puts forth here in Brazil and abroad.
His campaign slogans were, and still are, “God above all” and “Brazil over everything”. We must denounce that use of the name of God. The second divine Commandment is clear: “Do not take the holy name of God in vain”. As it happens, invoking the name of God in this manner is not only abusive, but it represents a true blasphemy. Why?
Because is not possible to link God to hatred, to the praise of torture, torturers and threats against his opponents the way Bolsonaro and his children do. In the sacred Judaic-Christian texts God reveals the divine nature as “love” and “mercy”. “Bolsonarism” includes a policy of confronting the opposition, not by engaging in dialogue with Congress, but where politics is understood as conflict, of the fascist type. This has nothing to do with God-love and God-mercy. Consequently it spreads and legitimates, from above, a true culture of violence, one that allows each citizen to posses up to four weapons. A weapon is not a kindergarten toy, but an instrument to kill or to defend oneself by mutilating or killing the other.
He considers himself religious, but his is a spiteful religiosity; his religiosity appears bereft of sacredness and reveals a perturbing lack of spirituality, or sense of commitment, either to human life or to nature’s other creatures, especially those who have less. Pope Francis often says, rightly, that he prefers an ethical atheist of good will to a Christian hypocrite who neither has love or empathy for the other, nor cultivates human values.
I quote from a text by one of the greatest theologians of the last century, who at the end of his life, was named a Cardinal, the French Jesuit Henri De Lubac:
«If I lack love or justice I inevitably move away from You, my God, and my cult is nothing more than idolatry. To believe in You I must believe in love and justice. It is a thousand times more valuable to believe in love and justice than to pronounce Your name. It is impossible for me to find You if I am divorced from love and justice. Those who take love and justice as their guide are on the path that leads them to You» (Sur les chemins de Dieu, Aubier 1956, p.125).
Bolsonaro, his clan and followers (but not all of them) are neither guided by love nor appreciative of justice. This is why they are divorced from the “milieu divin” (Teilhard de Chardin) and their path does not lead them to God. There are neo-Pentecostal pastors who see Bolsonaro as God-sent, but that changes nothing about the attitude of the President, who, to the contrary, amplifies ever more the offense to the holy name of God, especially when they hang a pornographic internet youtube against the Carnival.
What kind of God takes away the rights of the poor and grants privileges to the wealthy classes, what God humiliates the elderly, degrades women and despises peasants, depriving them of the hope of having a pension in old age?
The Social Security project creates profound social inequalities, and yet they have the nerve to say that is creating equality. Inequality is a neutral analytic concept. Ethically it means social injustice. Theologically, inequality is a social sin that negates God’s design of gathering all in a great fraternal fellowship.
French economist Thomas Piketty, famous for his book, Capital in the Twenty First Century, (El Capital en el siglo XXI, FCE 2014), also penned an entire book about The Economics of Inequality, (La economía de las desigualdades, Siglo veintiuno, 2015). According to Piketty, the simple fact that the 1% who are multi-billionaires control a great part of the income of the people of the world, and in Brazil, according to Marcio Pochmann, a specialist on the subject, the six main billionaires have the same wealth as the 100 million poorest Brazilians (JB 25/9/2017), reveals our social injustice.
Our hope is that Brazil is bigger than the reigning irrationality and that we will emerge better from the present crisis.
Leonardo BoffEco-Theologian-Philosopher Earthcharter Commissioner
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, email@example.com.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.