Brazilian Religious Leaders Speak Out As World Cup Nears

The song 'Faith in the Cup and no corner,' the theme proposed by the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC), set the tone for the gathering, beginning with the rehearsal prior to the celebration. The inter-religious liturgy centered around the call “For a World Without Arms, Drugs, Violence and Racism,” and drew attention to the different forms of discrimination and violence, denounced human trafficking, and highlighted the struggle against violence and the sexual exploitation of girls and adolescents.

An inter-religious celebration in the historic Mário Filho, or Maracaná Stadium in Rio de Janeiro has expressed the hopes of Brazilian religious traditions for the World Cup to begin here in June. Bishops, priests, pastors, monks, Babalao leaders, an Umbanda priestess, an Israeli representative, and a sociologist, gathered to call for a peaceful, clean, fair tournament, one affirming sports as an opportunity for confraternity between different people.

The song 'Faith in the Cup and no corner,' the theme proposed by the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC), set the tone for the gathering, beginning with the rehearsal prior to the celebration. The inter-religious liturgy centered around the call “For a World Without Arms, Drugs, Violence and Racism,” and drew attention to different forms of discrimination and violence, denounced human trafficking, and highlighted the struggle against violence and the sexual exploitation of girls and adolescents. 

The language used brought together expressions from the sacred books of the different religions, with poetic phrases in simple languages. "Trees waving palms, hills and mountains exploding with joy, multitudes loose in the streets, in the stadiums, in the parks, in a rhythm of celebration and of happiness!”

The liturgy also included the voices of dissidents, expressing the criticisms and accusations of the contradiction between excesses and flaws in the basic public services. “The Cup is more than the Cup; it is a symbol. On the one hand, of the most loved sport, soccer, celebration, and on the other, transformed, it changed to become a banner of struggle, of criticism, of indignation.”

It was able to translate the religious passions and those of the playing fields, when placed in the mouths of those present, in its last sentence, a clamor: "God, of plays well done and of surprising dribbling, we bring before you millions of Brazilian people that are getting ready to receive the Cup,” followed by the responses "Give Brazil a Cup of peace," and concluding, "Train us for plays that bring about peace and justice for all, because, after all has been said and done, it is life that needs to score a goal.”

Following the celebration there was a joint interview with the representatives of the religious traditions, followed by a 'tour' through the entrance to the stadium, the museum, the Brazilian team’s locker room,, the main hall, where the film of the ceremony prior to the Confederations Cup game between Brazil and Spain was shown, and then walking the same path the players will onto the playing field.  

Antonio Carlos Ribeiro is the editor of the Portuguese service of the Latin American and Caribbean Community Agency (ALC).