Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Rousseff leads Brazil in mourning Rio shooting

10 Apr

The sad events that unfolded in Realengo, a working-class district of Rio de Janeiro, on Thursday not only stunned Brazil’s very Catholic, very moral population, but also presented a test to their newly incumbent president, Dilma Rousseff.

Relatives mourn 14-year-old Luiza Paula da Silveira Machado

The shooting of 12 children, all aged between 10 and 13, at the Tasso Silveira school by a former pupil, 24-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, was a crime of unprecedented proportions in Brazil. The media captured the panic and anxiety of relatives as they waited outside the school gates for news of their loved ones. A sense of their grief was shouldered by the whole of Brazilian society, seen in the mass funeral for the victims, attended by hundreds of mourners, when rose petals were released from a military helicopter flying overhead.

Rousseff addresses the nation after the shooting

Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, who has been in government since January, reacted to the tragedy both as a statesman and as a mourner. In a position where her femininity could easily be criticised, she still allowed herself to show emotion when addressing a grief-stricken nation. Her eyes flooded with tears, she said: “This kind of crime is not usual here in our country and that’s why I think that everyone here, all of us, men and women, must unite to condemn this act of violence, to condemn this violence against unprotected children.” Continue reading

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Pope Benedict XVI in an ‘aggressively secular’ Spain

7 Nov

During his two days in Spain, Pope Benedict XVI has succeeded in converting what could have been a victorious tour of a traditional Catholic stronghold into a visit mired in controversy. Before even arriving in Santiago de Compostela to begin his visit, the Pope told reporters that Spain was suffering an ‘aggressive secularism’, which he compared with the anticlericalism of the 1930s.

Zapatero alongside Pope Benedict in what seems an awkward encounter

By referring to the 1930s when Spain stood on the brink of a civil war, the Pope irresponsibly highlights political divisions that have been difficult to rid from the national consciousness. In the 1930s Spanish society was divided between liberal, left-wing Republicans and right-wing, largely Catholic Nationalists. The Second Republic from 1931 to 1936 passed legislation separating the church and the state, legalising divorce and allowing women the vote. During this time radical left-wingers demonstrated their anticlericalism through attacks on nuns and monks and by burning churches. To compare the current state of Spain’s Catholic Church to these violent acts carried out by a minority is not only inaccurate, it is irresponsible. In the past, comments like this could have served to polarise Spanish society, described by the Civil War expert Ángel Viñas as ‘un juego pendular’, or pendulum game, for its history of extreme left and right politics. Continue reading