Brazil Bishop Says Government Corruption is Destroying Democracy

( [email protected] ) Aug 26, 2007 04:14 AM EDT

A Roman Catholic bishop in Brazil has warned that a series of corruption scandals is putting the country's democracy in jeopardy, as the Supreme Court commenced hearings on a bribery affair involving 40 government allies.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been haunted by a series of corruption scandals involving leading government figures over the past three years that fly in the face of pledges he made when he first came to power in 2003 and said he would clean up the political system.

The Supreme Court is deciding whether to put 40 people on trial, which includes leaders of Lula’s governing Working Party. They have been accused of running an illegal fundraising scheme to finance party election campaigns and bribe legislators.

Also, earlier this year, the president’s energy minister resigned over accusations that he took a kickback for government contracts and Senate leader Renan Calheiros, from the largest party in his coalition, faces similar charges, according to Reuters.

In light of recent events, Bishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, head of the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), said: “Corruption and impunity are leading our people to distrust politics. They represent a weakening of democracy.”

“If there are culprits, punish them. If public assets were stolen, give them back,” he added.

“The current situation puts at risk the institutions of this country.”

According to reports, President Lula has defended himself by saying that it only appears as though his government is more corrupt because his government is doing a better job of investigating cases.