U.S.-born Jesuit Father Edward Dougherty, founder of Rede Seculo 21 in Brazil, is pictured in a video screen grab. (CNS photo/Rede Seculo 21) See BRAZIL-BISHOPS-TV June 10, 2020.

SAO PAULO (CNS) -- The Brazilian bishops have criticized some Catholic TV stations' offer of support to the government in exchange for public funds and advertising revenues.

"The Catholic Church does not make bargains. It establishes institutional relations with public agents and the constituted powers, guided by the values of the Gospel and democratic, republican, ethical and moral values. We do not approve initiatives like this, which hinder the necessary unity for the church, in the fulfillment of its evangelizing mission," said the June 6 statement by the Brazilian bishops' conference.

The offer was made during a videoconference between Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and members of some Catholic TV stations.

The bishops emphasized that none of the broadcasters at the conference represent the Catholic Church, nor speak on its behalf.

At the mid-April videoconference, Father Reginaldo Manzotti, televangelist, told Bolsonaro: "We want to help build this Brazil. And, more than ever, you (Bolsonaro) know how important this (support) is when you have negative media. We want to be together."

Another participant was U.S.-born Jesuit Father Edward Dougherty, founder of Rede Seculo 21. The channel, however, denied that Father Dougherty asked for government aid.

In his speech, said a statement from Rede Seculo 21, Father Dougherty emphasized the possibility of exchanges between the U.S. and the South American country in the areas of environment and long-distance education. "At no time did Father Eduardo(as Father Dougherty is called in Brazil) propose an exchange of favors to the government or ask for support in exchange for funds," the statement said.

Other religious, however, were more direct.

"In order for us to grow, we need to have more investments," said Joao Monteiro de Barros Neto, owner of Rede Vida. Barros Neto was present at the virtual meeting and later told the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo that his network registered an 85% decline in advertising revenue from the federal government since Bolsonaro took office.

During the 2018 presidential elections, one of Bolsonaro's largest support groups were evangelicals.

"Our reality is very difficult and challenging; we work with small donations. We are in need of greater support from the government so that we can continue to communicate the good news, bringing to the knowledge of the Catholic population, the vast majority of this country, what good the government may be doing for our people," Redemptorist Father Welington Silva of TV Pai Eterno said on the videoconference.

According to the TV channel, however: "Father Silva participated as a journalist and communicator. He was not representing the station. TV Pai Eterna did not receive an invitation or send a representative to the videoconference," said a statement.

The station also reiterated it was "in line" with the philosophies of the bishops' conference.

"TV Pai Eterno has never made and does not make bargains," it said.

Bolsonaro's media department said that, last year, the government disbursed nearly $439,000 to TV stations linked to religious groups last year. Of this total, more than $428,000 went to Catholic broadcasters.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

Pope Francis is pictured with religious leaders during an interreligious meeting on the plain of Ur near Nasiriyah, Iraq, March 6, 2021. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis' prayer at the interreligious meeting at Ur, Iraq on Saturday, March 6.
Pope FrancisMarch 06, 2021
Pope Francis receives flowers from children during a welcoming ceremony with Iraqi President Barham Salih at the presidential palace in Baghdad on March 5, 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
While churches and mosques have been built for centuries in close proximity to each other, the relationship between those who worship God inside these sacred houses of prayer has not always been as close.
We asked our editors and staff at America to share some of their favorite recipes as a corporal work of mercy: to (help) feed the hungry.
America StaffMarch 05, 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has called the Mississippi and Texas orders "ill-advised."