Irish missionary: Brazil president ‘abandoning poor’ during pandemic

Irish missionary: Brazil president ‘abandoning poor’ during pandemic President Jair Bolsonaro Photo: Getty Images

An Irish missionary has blasted Brazil’s president for his “complete lack of direction” during the coronavirus crisis, and for putting the economy before the poor.

Fr Brendan Foley CSSp, the Superior of the Brazil South-West Province of the Spiritans and PP in Perus, São Paulo, said as the virus is expected to peak in June the “almost collapsed health system directly excludes the poor”.

Over the weekend Brazil registered a higher number of fatalities as a result of the virus than the US – the worst hit country – and at the time of print had the second worst outbreak in the world.

Covid-19 has reached the favelas [slums] in Fr Foley’s parish, which he describes as a “great worry” given the high population density. In a recent online meeting of their deanery, all six parish priests confirmed that the virus was prevalent in their parishes, with many deaths and infections

“Access to public hospitals and clinics is now at breaking-point. The country is losing the battle against the virus,” Fr Foley told The Irish Catholic.


“The finger of blame points towards President Bolsonáro for his complete lack of direction, refusal to accept official global health advice, limited welfare support for the poorest and his lack of support for inter-state collaboration to fight the spread of the virus,” he said.

“More concerned for the economy, he is threatening a return to military rule and is constantly chipping away at democratic processes, putting pressure on all aspects of Brazilian life in the middle of the pandemic.”

The Bishops’ Conference of Brazil has raised concerns about the “threat of military rule, erosion of democracy, abandonment of poor, lack of investment for the public healthcare system as well as the failure to protect the Amazon’s biodiversity and its indigenous peoples” Fr Foley highlighted.

The Irish Spiritans are following State-wide regulations and the guidelines of the Archdiocese of São Paulo, and are responding pastorally.

Fr Foley said: “We now have a longer list of intentions for those who have died, were infected or are recovering from the virus.

“We continue to pray in simplicity for all affected by the virus, rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us and hope in Jesus Christ.”