Brazil: Church and State against hunger

Brazil?s ongoing, heartbreaking drama of hunger and inequity, a challenge for Christians, led the Brazilian National Conference of Bishops (CNBB) to launch a national initiative against indigence and hunger in April 2002. Government estimates put the number of poor at 46 million; 22 million more are in a wretched condition, and all this out of a total population of 170 million. The government of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, through a specially created Ministry for Food Security and Struggle against Hunger, has undertaken food distribution on an emergency basis. ?Mutirão,? the Brazilian name for the Church response, is a collective initiative of solidarity moves through pastoral interventions in dioceses and parishes, aimed at empowering and organising the poor and bringing them in from the fringes of society. The President of the Bishops Commission for the ?mutirão? is Dom Luciano Mendes de Almeida SJ. Martinho Lenz SJ, the Commision?s Executive Secretary, offers counselling, information and organisational help. Through educational support and income generation schemes, the Commission attempts to restore self-esteem in those who live in slums and in semi-arid regions. Fr. Lenz represents the CNBB in the National Council of Food Security, which has to implement the ?Zero Hunger Programme? of the government. His question is: ?How involved is the Society of Jesus in this project?? [HL30605]