FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
THE vice-provincial of the Oblate Fathers in Recife, Brazil, has urged the Vatican to withdraw the Apostolic Nuncio and sever diplomatic relations with Brazil, the largest Catholic country
in the world.
Fr. Jaime Kohmetcher, 0.M.I.. said recently: "Where human rights are being trampled upon, the gesture should be made by the Vatican to break off diplomatic relations. This would be a considerable embarrassment to the government, but the Brazilian people would understand the significance and react favourably.
"We have been considerably disappointed by the soft stand taken by the Pope even after receiving documented evidence of persecution and torture of progressive elements within the Bra7ilian Church.
"It seems that the Vatican is willing to permit many such violent incidents rather than risk compromising its privileged position by taking a strong stand.
"The Church must stand up for all people who are oppressed. It will suffer persecution because of this. But in the long run history will show the advantage of taking a stand. The people are looking to the Church for support and will long remember the response they receive during this crucial period."
Two American Oblate Fathers were expelled from Brazil by the government last year for alleged subversion. They were supported and defended by their superiors both in Recife and in the United States, who explained that their actions were restricted to actively endorsing Christian social doctrine.
The two priests said they did not contest their expulsion because several Brazilians were implicated and they did not want to endanger the lives of others. Another confrontation between the Oblates and the Brazilian Government now seems possible.
TREADING WATER ENDS
This time no Brazilian laymen will be involved, and the priests do not intend to accept their expulsion passively without exhausting all legitimate means to protest."
Kohmetcher said: "We are not going to continue treading water here as we have since our priests were expelled.
"We are going to escalate the confrontation with the government and this time we have no intention of leaving peacefully. The government may expel us but we will at least force them to take us to court and go through the motions of a trial."