Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Friday, April 8, in an interview at the Embassy of Brazil in Rome, that he is a man without sins. The declaration was given in response to why he had received communion, during the funeral mass for pope John Paul II, without having confessed first.
Former Brazilian presidents Itamar Franco, José Sarney and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who were also present at the mass, had communion without previous confession too, according to Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim.
In a veiled response to criticism made by Don Eusébio Scheid, cardinal-archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, who called the President “not Catholic but chaotic,” Lula commented that he does not know if he is a good catholic or not. According to him, more than a good Catholic, “everybody should be a good human being
The President refused to answer directly the charges raised by the cardinal preferring to remind the journalists that pope John Paul II himself had taught the art of living with others in adversity.
Talking about the meaning of the funeral, Lula observed that he didn’t know any other moment in history in which so many diverse political and religious leaders got together. “All the religions, even those that live in conflict with the Catholic religion were present at this homage to the pope.”
Asked what he had felt during the funeral, the President answered: “I think I felt what most people felt. This man, even when people disagreed with him, they still respected him. Because he had some daring, and I would say, lots of tolerance and perseverance.”
Lula also commented on his relationship with former president Cardoso – whom he invited to the funeral – reminding that both have been good friends for decades. “I have been a friend of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso even before he was elected senator. Then I have to treat him in a civilized way, and I expect the same from him.”
After being told by the Rio archbishop that he shouldn’t be interfering in the choice of the new pope (a Holy Spirit business), the Brazilian President was careful when asked once again if his candidate for pope was São Paulo’s cardinal Don Cláudio Hummes:
“This thing seems to not be open for guesses. Any minute now they will call me a canvasser for Don Cláudio. Obviously, I would be the happiest human being if Don Cláudio was chosen pope. If not him, someone from South America or Latin America. But I prefer not to comment on this.”