a Brazilian poor man carries a bag of food

A man receives a meal at a food distribution point in Porto Alegre, South Brazil. The country is in the grip of a health and social emergency.


From the rise of fundamentalism, to the rupture of the welfare state, from increasing social violence, to the destruction of forests, Brazil has been facing many crises even before the catastrophic second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country

Rev. Romi Bencke, general secretary of the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil said that the current situation in Brazil represents two potential risks for humanity. "The first is the destruction of our biodiversity that occurs through monoculture, intensive use of poison, mining and clearing of forests,” said Bencke. The impacts of environmental destruction affect not only Brazil, but the planet as a whole, because what we call life is an interdependent system.” 

Another risk is the current COVID-19 pandemic and the new variations of the virus, Bencke said. If we don't take the scientific community's warnings seriously about the consequences of not containing the proliferation of the new coronavirus, we will become a potential danger for other countries, especially for countries bordering Brazil.”

The Most Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, presiding bishop of the Church of Norway, and former WCC general secretary, said that the reported suffering of the peoples of Brazil under the pandemic, and particularly those of the most vulnerable in Brazil, is a great concern for the world. 

Both the medical challenge of the uncontrolled transmission and the several mutations of the virus are threats to the people of Brazil but potentially also to the global community,” said Tveit. The need for a fair access to vaccines and the patents to produce vaccines must be given a global and fair response.”

Peter Prove, director of the World Council of Churches Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, expressed concern that COVID-19 infections and mortality rates have continued to surge in Brazil, causing terrible suffering for many families and communities. 

The pre-existing very high levels of inequality in Brazil had “amplified the vulnerability of poor and marginalized communities”, and “poverty and (lack of) access to health care have been major factors in the course of the pandemic”, said Prove.  

Prove and other speakers also referred to the increased risk of new zoonotic diseases as a result of accelerating deforestation and destruction of wildlife habitats in Brazil, and elsewhere. “In addition to being at the forefront of the current pandemic crisis, Brazil is also at the leading edge of the deforestation crisis, with potentially significant implications for future pandemic risks.”

Read the full presentation of the director of the WCC's Commission of the Churches on International Affairs to the seminar