In solidarity with Bishop Flavio Giovenale

da | 18/12/2007 | SOLIDARIETA' | 0 commenti

(ANS – Rome) – The Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Pascual Chávez, and the members of the General Council in a note to ANS – Agenzia iNfo Salesiana, express their support for Bishop Flavio Giovenale SDB of Abaetetuba in the State of Parà in Brazil, the victim recently of fresh pressure and threats on account of his commitment to the poor and ill-treated people.

On 4 December the Bishop received an anonymous letter: “We know what you are doing. We shall let the dust settle and then we shall settle up. You have upset too many people.” It appears that the President of the Lawyers’ Association of Brazil–Pará has received a similar threat.

Since the beginning of his pastoral ministry, Bishop Giovenale has been fostering initiatives of human and social development. Recently, first through diocesan structures and then personally he has intervened condemning the case of a girl imprisoned for more than 20 days in a cell with 34 men. For the girl it was 20 days of torture and rape.

The case revealed the tip of the iceberg of corruption, drugs, conspiracy of silence involving a network including the civil Police (and in part also the Military Police), drug dealers, the Judicial system and the Government of the State of Parà. The intervention of the Child Protection Council, an official Body responsible for the defence and care of children and adolescents, created and maintained thanks also to the efforts of the Diocese, brought public attention in the national press and also in some of the international media to the case in Abaetetuba where an official enquiry has also been launched.

It is not the first time that Bishop Giovenale has been threatened. Immediately after his arrival in the Diocese of Abaetetuba, he tried to encourage efforts for human development and education to combat the culture of economic and social stagnation resulting from the drug trafficking. He gave a considerable impulse to the creation of vocational training centres, youth centres and other social structures such as the support given to the work of the Child Protection Council in Abaetetuba.

Published 17/12/2007


The courage of bearing witness

In the middle of November a news item of an event in the State of Parà in Brazil, caught the attention of the national press and in some cases of the international media: a girl, who ironically became 16 years of age on 10 December, World Human Rights Day, was arrested and put in  a cell with 34 men. For her they were 20 days of torture and rape.

The “Child Protection Council,” a group of 5 members  elected by the people and according to the law responsible for the defence of children and adolescents, when it came to hear of it condemned the case and revealed the tip of an iceberg of corruption, drugs, and a conspiracy of silence  involving a network including the civil Police (and in part also the Military Police), drug dealers, the Judicial system and the Government of the State of Parà. The  intervention of the Child Protection Council, an official Body responsible for the defence and care of children and adolescents, created and maintained thanks also to the efforts of the Diocese, brought public attention in the national press and also in some of the international media to the case in Abaetetuba where an official enquiry has also been launched.

Bishop Flavio Giovenale SDB of Abaetetuba in the State of Parà in Brazil, intervened through diocesan structures and then condemning the case of the girl. Avoiding the attention of the major media, the Bishop focused on certain key areas. In fact he took part in a meeting with representatives of the Institutions involved: The Courts of Justice,  Defence Ministry, Home Office, Civil Police, Military Police, Fire Service and the Lawyers’ Association of Brazil. Also taking part in the meeting were a personal representative of President Lula, and the Special Secretariat for Human Rights. Towards the conclusion of the meeting, which was conducted in a business-like a open manner, the Bishop was able to speak  as he clarified certain ideas and statements that had not been correct. The same thing happened in the course of a meeting of the Commission on Human Rights of the Federal Parliament which went to Abaetetuba to investigate the case.

On  4 December, Bishop Giovenale, who on 8 December completed ten years as Bishop in the diocese of Abaetetuba, received an anonymous letter: “We know what you are doing. We shall let the dust settle and then we shall settle up. You have upset too many people.” It appears that the President of the Lawyers’ Association of Brazil–Pará has received a similar threat. Also threatened were the 5 members of the Child Protection Council, the two catechists who from the beginning followed up the case and the coordinator of Youth Pastoral Ministry.

Already as the case developed the Child Protection Council of Abaetetuba was obstructed by some public bodies in collusion with the debased system that hindered the work.

The Diocese, and in particular Office for Youth Ministry saw to it that the case did not get covered up; the attention attracted by the case of the girl led to some promises of the desired action being taken:

  • * setting up prisons with special sections for women and adolescents (of the 132 State prisons in Pará only 6 at present have cells for women);
  • * creating a data-base of prisoners to avoid them getting “lost” in the judicial system (the newspaper “O Liberal” of Sunday 9 December published then fact that of 7,167 prisoners in the State of Pará only 1,466 had faced a trial, and sometimes it takes 14 months before this happens;
  • * starting enquiries involving the police forces at all levels  and for the first time in the  State of Parà, the Home Office and the Judicial System.
  • * replacing the  police directly involved in the case;
  • * setting up a Commission, at national level to deal with hundreds of small cases before the courts (according to the media in the space of a week, it dealt with a large number of cases that had been pending for years):
  • * initiatives for young people are being studied in Abaetetuba.

It is not the first time that Bishop Giovenale has been threatened. Immediately after his arrival in the Diocese of Abaetetuba, he tried to encourage efforts for human development and education to combat the culture of economic and social stagnation resulting from the drug trafficking. He gave a considerable impulse to the creation of vocational training centres, youth centres and other social structures such as the support given to the work of the Child Protection Council in Abaetetuba.

“I decided,” – Bishop Giovenale writes in a letter, “not to let the case be forgotten but to work so that there might be positive results for Abaetetuba, for Pará and for Brazil. I am trying to speed up some of the pastoral and social projects in progress. In particular I am working hard, in collaboration with the Departments of Education of the Local Authorities and of the State, to reduce the levels of school truancy and to complete the work of restructuring the “Vocational Training Centre of “Cristo Trabalhador”, so as to be able to continue to give the opportunity of a future to our youngsters.”

CI HANNO SCRITTO

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Don Gianni

Arrivato a bordo m/n Esperia il 17 ottobre 1963…

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