In Rio de Janeiro this weekend, Pope John Paul II spoke out against divorce, sex outside marriage, birth control, and abortion, calling it "the shame of humanity."
Although Brazil is officially the world's largest Roman Catholic country, only 13% of those baptized Catholic consider themselves "practicing." The Pope's message was seen as old-fashioned in an increasingly liberal country, one where over half the population approves of sex outside marriage and birth control. There is also popular support for a law currently being considered by congress that would permit public hospitals to perform abortion in cases of rape, or to save the mother's life.
"I don't think the church can tell a woman, if she's been raped or her life is in danger, that she is a sinner for having an abortion," said Viviane Correia Andrade, 17. Marcia Fontes Queles, a 29-year-old single mother of three children, said "I am a good Catholic and I love the Pope, but I don't think two people should stay together if they don't love each other anymore," she said.
Media Resources: Washington Post, Reuters, AFP - October 3-6 1997