VATICAN CITY, December 1, 2010 ( – The Vatican is asking Brazil’s leaders to respect a diplomatic agreement they had threatened to nix after the pope and the country’s bishops urged Brazilians to vote in favor of the right to life.

The comments were reportedly made in a recent meeting between the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Dominique Mamberti, and Gilberto Carvalho, chief of staff for Brazilian president Luiz Lula da Silva. 

The gathering was held in an apparent attempt to patch up the government’s relationship with the Vatican following the recent bitter presidential election, in which Lula’s handpicked successor, Dilma Rousseff, found her prospects threatened by her previous support for the decriminalization of abortion.

Rousseff won the election after she softened her public image on the subject,  signing a carefully-worded pledge not to “take the initiative” on new pro-abortion measures.

The recent meeting was preceded by a letter sent by Rousseff to the pontiff asking for his blessing for her presidency, which was characterized in the Brazilian media as a request for a “truce.”

During the meeting, Carvalho remarked that the Rousseff campaign had experienced “moments of great tension” over the pope’s comments during the campaign, which reminded Brazilians that they had an obligation to preserve the value of life through the political process.

“We didn’t know what direction those comments would take,” said Carvalho, who also reportedly accused “forces in Brazil” of having persuaded the pope to make the comments in order to defeat Rousseff.

During the election, Carvalho reportedly threatened the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops with the cancellation of the Vatican treaty, known as a “concordat,” by which the government would agree to support Catholic schools among other such benefits. The leadership of the Conference then began to distance itself from some of its members’ denunciations of Rousseff.

Despite having been signed by the government and ratified by the Brazilian Congress, the concordat is currently under review by the nation’s Supreme Court and has not yet entered into effect, leaving its ultimate fate an open question.


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