Brazilian bishops join national movement against slave labor

BRASILIA, Brazil (CNS) — Brazil’s Catholic bishops have joined a 21st-century abolitionist movement called the National Front Against Slave Labor. The front, which includes congressional leaders and representatives of unions and social movements, was launched June 4. Its immediate goal is to push new anti-slavery legislation through Brazil’s National Congress before the July recess. “Slavery is an abominable practice that the church in Brazil, through the voice of some bishops and the Pastoral Land Commission, has denounced since the 1970s in a systematic and documented way,” said a bishops’ conference statement read by Father Jose Ernanne Pinheiro, political adviser to the bishops, during the campaign launch. Slavery was abolished in Brazil 120 years ago, but special teams in Brazil’s Ministry of Labor have rescued nearly 29,000 people from forced labor since 1995. Many of them were poor peasant workers on farms.