Brazil's Bishops' Conference has issued a declaration acknowledging that some of its members supported the authoritarian military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985, reports the Catholic News Agency.
The document, For New Times, with Freedom and Democracy, issued April 1, says some of the nation's bishops backed the junta with 'the intention of combatting communism.'
The document, unprecedented among Latin American bishops' conferences, is a contribution of the Church in Brazil to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the dictatorship's beginning.
The Brazilian Armed Forces staged a coup March 31, 1964, overthrowing the left-wing president João Goulart, a member of the Brazilian Labour Party. It was feared that Goulart would align Brazil with Fidel Castro's Cuba, and the military installed itself as a dictatorship. During its 21 years of rule, it restricted freedom of speech and the press, as well as political opposition. For it's anti-communist stance, it was also supported by the US.
The bishops called the period of the junta one of the 'darkest periods of history' in Brazil: 'throughout this period, student movements, labourers from rural areas and cities, intellectuals and religious groups fought arduously for democracy. Many were assassinated, tortured, exiled, or "disappeared".'
They recounted that 'a spiral of violence, the limitation of the freedom of expression, the establishment of torture and censorship, the freeze of political rights took place during those 21 years. In the name of a progress that was not carried out,' people were displaced from their homes, and killed.
FULL STORY Brazil's bishops take responsibility for backing junta (CNA)