Janet Tappin Coelho

Janet Tappin Coelho writes for Religion News Service.

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Ahead of the World Cup, Brazil's Churches Work to Protect Children from Sex Abuse

by Janet Tappin Coelho 05-30-2014

Evangelical Christians protest against child sex exploitation in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Religion News Service photo: Robson Coelho

As Brazil counts down to the opening of the World Cup on June 12, churches in cities hosting the international soccer tournament are not content to sit on the sidelines and cheer.

They’ve launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the hundreds of vulnerable children at risk of sexual exploitation during the month-long competition.

With an estimated 600,000 soccer fans expected to arrive in Brazil within a matter of days, the South American nation is under pressure to combat its international reputation as a destination for child sex tourism.

Church leaders fear the heavy flow of tourists during the games could fuel an explosion of sexual trafficking of children and teens at fan fest locations around the World Cup arenas.

Brazil’s Police Take Bible Classes to Reduce Stress

by Janet Tappin Coelho 10-29-2013

Police officer Paulo Henrique Silva de Pinho of Brasilia with his family. Photo via RNS/courtesy Paulo Henrique Silva de Pinho

Amid concerns about police brutality, Brazilian military police officers are taking Bible study classes during their working hours to help them deal with stress and improve their personal and family lives.

The initiative teaches officers how to apply biblical concepts to everyday family matters and encourages them to search for biblical examples that give advice, guidance, and solutions about family issues, including how to rear children, handle finances, and build personal relationships.

The Moral Education Program was launched as a three-month pilot project in the capital Brasilia by the Federal District Military Police in partnership with the Sao Paulo-based University of the Family. More than 150 officers applied to join the project but only 70 have been selected to attend the two-hour weekly sessions because of limited space.

Brazil Tries to Combat Religious Intolerance of Minority Faiths

by Janet Tappin Coelho 10-11-2013

Juliana Lima and Jenifer Felicio, Candomble young women, pose for a photograph. Photo via RNS/by Robson Coelho

The couple practiced Candomble, an African-Brazilian faith with roots in Brazil’s slave trade.

They dressed in white and believed in an all-powerful God who is served by lesser deities, blending Catholicism with African spiritualism, or the belief that the dead communicate with the living.

But their neighbor, who attended a local evangelical church, disapproved. On a balmy day one year ago he shot and killed the husband as he was screwing in a light bulb in his yard.

Walking 1,850 Miles to See Pope Francis, Pilgrim Feels Renewed

by Janet Tappin Coelho 07-29-2013
Photo courtesy RNS.

Fabio Mateus, a 38-year-old married father, walked nearly 2,000 miles to see Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy RNS.

A record-breaking three million Roman Catholics crammed Copacabana Beach Saturday night to hear Pope Francis encourage young people to build a better world.

The pope might have been talking about Fabio Mateus.

The 38-year-old married father of twin boys, made an extraordinary effort to see the pope. Saturday night he and millions of others slept on the beach following the vigil and watched the pink hue of dawn breaking on the Atlantic horizon.

Pope Delights Crowds With Message of Reform

by Janet Tappin Coelho 07-29-2013
Photo courtesy RNS.

Pope Francis donned a headdress at a ceremony in the city´s grand municipal theater. Photo courtesy RNS.

In one of the most inclusive gestures of his visit here, Pope Francis donned a headdress offered to him from an indigenous South American Indian at a ceremony in the city´s grand municipal theater.

The gesture was greeted with shouts of surprise initially. Then the audience of Brazilian politicians and business people erupted into roars of approval and thunderous applause.

It was a compelling moment. Moments earlier, the pope had spoken about the state´s responsibility to respect and encourage “peaceful coexistence between different religions.”

Pope to Brazilians: Don’t Ignore the Periphery

by Janet Tappin Coelho 07-29-2013
Photo courtesy RNS.

People attending the opening Mass held on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy RNS.

It’s not every day that the pope drops in for a visit to your home. But Maria da Penha dos Santos lucked out when Pope Francis chose to enter her small yellow two-story house in the rundown slum of Varginha.

The Thursday morning visit came on the fourth day of the pontiff’s weeklong World Youth Day tour. Santos’ house was one of seven earmarked for a visit.

She was waiting outside with her husband, daughter, and granddaughter when the pope stopped in front and told her “we have a beautiful family and he had loved us even before we had met.”

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