by Lise Alves
SAO PAULO (CNS) — Christian leaders said they felt uncomfortable that so many members of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies invoked religion as they voted to authorize an impeachment process for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
Romi Benke, general secretary of the National Council of Christian Churches in Brazil, said that as federal representatives made their way to the microphone to cast their votes, she felt incredibly uncomfortable with the words uttered by dozens of Congressional representatives.
“It was shocking to hear the Lord’s name said in vain,” she told Catholic News Service. “The number of representatives who used the phrase ‘for God,’ ‘for our Lord’ or ‘in the name of the Lord’ to justify their vote was alarming.”
Benke said the session showed a widespread “instrumentalization of religion” by the representatives.
“I am convinced that they were not all speaking for all of the Brazilian Christians, and yet they spoke as though they were speaking for all of us,” she said.
Carlos Moura, executive secretary of the Brazilian bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission, agreed.
“For the commission there was an overwhelming feeling of embarrassment and dissatisfaction over the words uttered in the Chamber [of Deputies] on Sunday,” he said.
Moura said during five hours of voting April 17, legislators cast their votes “in the name of their wives, children, political party and God instead of sticking to the actual charges against the president.” Only a handful of representatives mentioned the official reason for impeachment proceedings as they voted: Rousseff has been accused of mismanagement of funds and using loans from state-owned banks to mask huge budget deficits.
Moura said the negative reaction toward legislators was so great on social media channels that their remarks were unlikely to be repeated if the process goes before the Senate for a vote.
Analysts said the process was more a no-confidence vote in the current administration’s ability to handle the worst economic recession in Brazil’s history.
Earlier, the bishops’ conference released a statement saying it was closely monitoring events and “expected the democratic rule of law to prevail.”
The bishops also urged people protesting on either side to be peaceful.
“Peaceful demonstrations contribute to the strengthening of democracy,” said the bishops’ conference statement.