As Brazilians face harder times on a daily basis with the increasing impacts of COVID-19 at all levels of society, several church-based organizations launched a campaign on 11 June calling on people to express solidarity with all who have lost family members and friends due to the pandemic and its systemic consequences in a reality marked by inequality, such as hunger, violence, and racism.
Inspired by the theme “Only Silence can Echo our Pain,” the ‘non-action’ campaign also calls upon Brazilians to show their indignation at the lack of concrete actions by the federal government to refrain the advancement of COVID-19 by posting messages in social media or hanging signs in their houses and churches using the hashtag #SilencioPelaDor (silence because of pain).
The date of 11 June was chosen because it is the Feast of Corpus Christi, a Roman Catholic liturgical solemnity and a federal holiday in the largest Catholic country in the world.
The concept, developed by Brother Henrique Peregrino da Trindade, from the city of Salvador, northeast of Brazil, is based on the message that silence and reflection can echo the pain of an entire country, and a firm and nonviolent attitude can call for political action so that no more lives are lost.
Rev. Romi Bencke, general secretary of the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil, said that the ‘non-action’ by silence caused by pain approach is inspired by Mahatma Ghandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. “We want to draw attention to the option made by the Brazilian government in not having an effective policy in the face of COVID-19, which is currently affecting the most economically vulnerable populations,” she said. “We also want to give visibility to the dozens of thousands of deaths that could have been avoided if the federal administration had taken the pandemic seriously.”
Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, World Council of Churches interim general secretary, said that as we watch the epicentre of the pandemic moving to Latin America, our prayers are with the thousands of families who lost their loved ones.”Every life counts,” Sauca said. “May the silence of those Brazilians who mourn the pain of their losses and difficulties caused by this terrible situation be a reminder to the country’s leadership of the utmost responsibility to preserve human dignity at all costs.”
Brazil is among the Latin American countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 40,000 deaths. São Paulo state is approaching 10,000 COVID-19 deaths, about half of which took place in the metropolis of 12 million residents.
On 10 June, the São Paulo state reported a record 24-hour death toll increase of 340 people, surpassing a record set the previous day. Retail shops reopened that same day after a two-month pandemic shutdown in Brazil’s biggest city, leading to crowded buses and subways from early in the day. Many health specialists advised against the reopening, saying contagion is still growing in the city, though at a slower rate.