Brazil's declaration of war against Germany and Italy brings another forty, million 'Catholics on to the side of the United Nations. A great many of Brazil's Catholics are, however, considered to be but nominal Catholics.
More significant is the close link between Brazil and her ancient Motherland, Portugal. There are signs already that Brazil's action will affect Portuguese policy,' and Portuguese policy in turn may have some effect in Spain and France. Thus Brazil's entry into the war may do something to strengthen the Latin weight behind the United Nations. Another point of interest is the successful fight which Brazil, under President Vargas, has waged against both Right and Left totalitarianism, and Brazil will strengthen the cause of those who see in the triumph of 'either totalitarian .wing a danger to civilisation..
Brazil has a population of some 44 millions, the great majority of whom are Catholics at least by profession. A good many, however, are recognised to be merely nominal Catholics.
Though Church and State were separated in 1891, the constitution decreeing that no religipn may be either subsidised or molestea, the country remains Catholic in spirit. Religious associations may hold property, Church property is exempt from taxation, and there is no divorce a vincula.
Brazil sends an Ambassador to the Holy Sec and a Papal Nuncio resides in Rio de Janeiro.
The primatial see is that of Sanellseimi Salvatorie de"Bahia, but the chief prelate is the Cardinal Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro. Cardinal Lcme da Silveira Cintra, who was appointed to the See and made a cardinal in 1930 at the age of 48., He was Pontifical Legate at the Eucharistic Congress in Bahia in 1933.
The close link between Brazil and Portugal is due to one of the most famous acts of arbitration achieved by the Holy Sec. In 1493 Alexander VI Pronounced the dividing line between Spanish and Portuguese possessions to be fixed at a meridian 100 leagues west of Cape Verde. All discoveries east of this line were to belong to Portugal; those west of it to Spain. Hence, despite the fact that Brazil was discovered by a Spaniard it became a Portuguese possession.
The independence of Brazil was achieved in 1822, and seeing that Brazil was established as a country on its own through an act of Papal arbitration, one might hope that its present involvement in the war might strengthen the hopes of those who see in the Holy See the wisest arbitrator for the present war.
PORTUGAL'S MESSAGE Brazil's relations with Portugal have remained close, and it is not surprising that the Portuguese President should have sent a warm message to Brazil, to be followed by the following statement in the name of the Portuguese Government:
The Portuguese Government, for whom the juridical position adopted by Portugal in the present conflict never signified, as was stated more than once, the severing of historical links with other countries, feel themselves all the more bound towards Brazil, with which country the close ties of blood render relations unalterable.
Now that Brazil is at war the Government desire to express to her, in )the name of the Portuguese people, the sentiments of fraternal esteem, moral solidarity, and sincere emotion with which they think of their brothers in the attitude of sacrifice they have assumed in defence of what they consider to be their honour and their right.
In view of Axis pressure, her jealous preservation of neutrality and the misgivings about Russia recently expressed by Salazar. Portugal's action is a courageous one. evincing the close bonds that unite the two Catholic and Latin nations. It can scarcely fail to have its effect in Spain and even in France. Given successes on the part of the United Nations, Brazil's initiative may in the end become the wedge which will detach a substantial section of the Latin world from Axis influence,