By ACNS staff and Nina Boe, IEAB
The Bishop of South-Western Brazil has thanked the Anglican Communion for its messages of support after a nightclub fire killed more than 200 people.
Some 240 people died in a fire that swept through the venue after a band let off fireworks at the Kiss club in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul.
Many victims reportedly inhaled toxic fumes or were crushed as panicking clubbers tried to escape.
Shortly after the tragedy, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s (Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil) Bishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, used Social Media and other networks, to call the diocese's local membership to gather for a vigil at the Anglican cathedral Catedral do Mediador. They also collected information and discussed how the community could help.
He told ACNS that clergy had been responding to the tragedy in a variety of ways: “We have brothers and sisters in our church who are participating in support groups for the families, psychological and spiritual support. We have clergy who are visiting the wounded who are hospitalised, helping minister to their health. We also have many communities which are meeting in prayer for the families.”
Bp Francisco stressed that the response to this tragedy was very much an ecumenical one. This was highlighted by a recent service in which community church leaders in Santa Maria joined together for an ecumenical service outside the Anglican cathedral to remember those who lost their lives. All churches sounded their bells to mark the tragedy.
In the days following the accident, the Bishop received many messages of condolence and support from people around the Anglican Communion. The messages, one of which came from the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, meant a lot to the Bishop: “I feel very comforted,” said Bp Francisco, “it gives me an idea of the Catholicity of the Church, the feeling that we are one body...that when one part suffers the entire body suffers together. This is the mystery of communion, it is as if we are of one heart and one mind. It helps us to understand the significance of being one family [in Christ]."
Bp Francisco said the church there was calling on the government to act to prevent such a tragedy ever happening again.
“This tragedy brings to all of society the question of personal security. It's necessary that we take care so that profit doesn’t becomes more important than peoples' lives, but unfortunately this is what has happened...to fill a night club with more people beyond the security limits was irresponsible. The laws and supervisory controls need to be more rigid and efficient. You can't expose people to risk; it's the duty of the state and prefectures. Of course people are entitled to fun, but there needs to be [more] protection."