BRASILIA, Brazil (ChurchMilitant.com) - Brazil's government has consecrated the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In a ceremony held on Tuesday inside the presidential palace, government leaders and two bishops signed off on a consecration of Brazil to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Nuns, clergy and government officials were present for the ceremony honoring Our Lady.
The 30-minute event featured speeches, the Rosary and the singing of hymns. Front and center in the room for the event was a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The statue will remain in the presidential palace in a place of honor.
One of the bishops present for the occasion was Bp. Fernando Arêas Rifan, who at the end of the event recited the text of the consecration prayer.
Bishop Arêas is head of the Personal Apostolic Administration of St. John Mary Vianney, a unique jurisdiction erected by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002 for devotees to the Traditional Latin Mass in Brazil. The only personal apostolic administration currently in the Church, it occupies the same boundaries as the diocese of Campos.
The other bishop in attendance was Bishop Emeritus João Evangelista Martins Terra.
There are more Catholics living in Brazil than any other country in the world.
Bolsonaro attended the 30-minute event leading up to the prayer of Marian consecration but apparently left the room before the consecration prayer was recited.
It is thought that this move was related to Bolsonaro's close ties with Evangelical Protestantism. Bolsonaro's wife is Protestant, and they have frequently been seen attending Protestant Sunday services. Nonetheless, Bolsonaro refers to himself as a Catholic.
The Portuguese hashtag #OrePeloBrasil, meaning "pray for Brazil," was trending on Brazilian Twitter earlier this week.
Some Brazilians doubted whether their country had been fully and truly consecrated to Mary, noting that the president did not recite the prayer of consecration himself.
Bishop Rifan appeared to address this in a Facebook post on Wednesday, saying:
My participation was a tribute to Our Lady, in the Planalto Palace in the presence of the president of the republic. It did not mean political support for the president or anyone. I believe that, even though it was not entirely satisfactory, it was worth the homage to Our Lady and the announcement and intention of consecration in the presence of the president. It was the maximum that was achieved [emphasis added].
At times, the Brazilian president has been compared to U.S. President Donald Trump. They both make use of anti-establishment rhetoric, and both have been criticized for brash, off-the-cuff remarks.
Furthermore, Bolsonaro's campaign used the slogan, "Brazil above everything and God above everyone." This has drawn comparisons to President Trump's "America first" slogan.
In other news, an Italian politician is catching flak from the Vatican after he publicly offered himself and the country to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Addressing a populist rally outside Milan's cathedral on May 18, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini spoke about Europe's Christian roots.
Salvini noted that both St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminded Europeans of their Catholic heritage. He went on to invoke Europe's patron saints.
Then, Salvini turned toward the statue of the Blessed Mother atop the cathedral, kissed the Rosary beads in his hand and told the rally's attendees, "I entrust Italy, my life and your lives to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, whom I'm sure will bring us to victory."
Many Church leaders have been critical of Salvini because he is opposed to mass migration. The criticism continued with his recent entrustment to Our Lady.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, commented to the press on Sunday, "I believe partisan politics divides, but God belongs to everyone."
"Invoking God for oneself is always very dangerous," Cdl. Parolin added.