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What Does Cardinal Hummes Really Think?

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 In early February, the Brazilian media reported extensively about the concern of the Brazilian Army and government were having with some guidelines of the Synod on the Amazon that could affect national sovereignty.[1]

 

 In his inaugural lecture at the School of Theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo on February 19, to which no military authority seems to have been invited, Archbishop Cláudio Hummes (president of REPAM, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network) gave this rather awkward answer:[2]

 

“The synod has brought great excitement and caused concern to some generals out there… But we continue to work normally. No one is afraid of scowling…”

Later on, he added:

 

“We have to be a prophetic Church, one which denounces evils, which is not afraid of scowling. Not being afraid of scowling does not mean you have to fight; it means to not be afraid, to be willing to dialogue… to resolve things through dialogue rather than confrontation. You have to reach out to people if they have other ideas or maybe are violent…To this little threat from the government about the preparation of the synod, I say, ‘The people have a democratic freedom to speak without feeling threatened.’ This is democracy; this is the rule of law. You may even speak erroneously, but you cannot feel threatened. This we cannot accept.”

 

There is no record of His Eminence having called the Armed Forces to talk or having made himself available for dialogue.

 

However, about 20 days after these sharp remarks, Cardinal Hummes was the first one to speak at the seminar on “Amazon Synod: Contributions from Sustainable Development,” held at the capital of the State of Amazonas. Also present were Army General César Augusto Nardi de Souza, Military Commander of the Amazon and other military personnel invited to the event, notably the Archbishop of Brazil’s Military Ordinance, Most Rev. Fernando Guimarães, who is also a general.

In the presence of those leading military men, His Eminence treated them quite differently and even praised their role:

 

“Then I also remember, that is to say, we have here the presence of our general, the Army here in the Amazon has played a great role, above all in the forest. And it is often the Army and the Church that are there actually serving those populations.”

After all, what does Cardinal Hummes really think?

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