The Catholic National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) has launched a move to bring attention to the state of public health care in the nation.

The objective of the 2012 Fraternity Campaign, which carries the slogan, “That health be spread on earth,” was launched on Feb. 22, Ash Wednesday, according to a news release from the Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency.
The annual Lenten campaign took on new urgency this week after the Brazilian government announced a 55 billion reales ($32.2 billion) cut in the 2012 national budget. Among the programs most affected are those in the area of social care, with the Ministry of Health losing 5.5 billion reales ($3.2 billion) of its budget.

For the last 25 years, the Fraternity Campaign has focused on finding solutions to concrete problems facing Brazilian society.

The first Fraternity Campaign headed by the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil took place during Lent in 1964 under the influence of the Second Vatican Council. But since 2000, the Fraternity Campaign has taken on an ecumenical character, fostered by the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC).

Maria Cristina dos Anjos, national executive director of Caritas, told the heart of the annual campaign is the collection held on Palm Sunday, which goes to the National Solidarity Fund. Last year, it collected just over 5 million reales ($2.9 million).