Brazilian Bishops Support Protests

The Brazilian bishops’ conference announced their support for the massive demonstrations sweeping across South America’s largest nation, but declined to say how the protests might affect World Youth Day activities and the visit of Pope Francis in July. In a document distributed to journalists by Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, the bishops’ conference president, the conference declared “its solidarity and support to these demonstrations, as long as they are peaceful, and which have taken to the streets persons of all ages, especially the youth.” Missing from the document was any mention of World Youth Day, set for Rio de Janeiro on July 23 to 28. Archbishop Assis told reporters it was the government’s responsibility to guarantee the safety of the pilgrims. The protests have expanded since the first were organized primarily by student groups in mid-June to protest a 10-cent increase in public transportation fares. Protesters have since expanded the list of grievances with the government to include high taxation rates, decreased government services and attention to massive public projects like stadium construction while vital social needs go unmet.

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