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Foto: UNIC Rio/Gustavo Barreto

Photo by UNIC Rio/Gustavo Barreto

With his arms wide open to embrace the people of Rio de Janeiro, the Christ the Redeemer statue was an appropriate place for an anti-discrimination event.

The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, UNAIDS and the city’s state university joined their voices on 23 May to promote equality and the elimination of stigma and discrimination.

The event combined two UNAIDS campaigns. Zero Discrimination was launched this year aims to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS and eliminate stigma and discrimination. Meanwhile, Protect the Goal uses the popularity of sport to unite the world to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation. Through these two campaigns, UNAIDS promotes a vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

The Archbishop of Rio, Cardinal Orani Tempesta, said at the event, “The world we desire is one in which people live a dignified life and are free to live in a way where they do not feel threatened because of the way they think, their religion, their ideas or their illnesses. Knowledge, fraternity and love of one’s neighbour makes all the difference.”

Speaking at the event, Msgr Robert Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis’ special advisor on HIV and AIDS, highlighted the importance of sport citing St. John Paul II, who said that playing sports “can encourage young people to develop important values such as loyalty, perseverance, friendship, sharing and solidarity” and represent “an opportunity for meeting and dialogue, over and above every barrier of language, race or culture.”

Msgr Vitillo at the UNADIS in Rio. Photo by UNIC Rio/Gustavo Barreto

Msgr Vitillo at the UNADIS in Rio. Photo by UNIC Rio/Gustavo Barreto

Brazil will be the host to two major sporting events in the coming future. This year sees it holding the World Cup. Then, in 2016, it has been chosen to host the Olympics.

Msgr. Vitillo emphasised how Caritas member organisations across the world, including Caritas Brazil in this great country, “strive to defend the rights of every single person in the world makes special efforts to assure the basic necessities of life to the most poor and marginalised persons in the world.

“I pray that your efforts in the sports world will never forget or exclude any of the “least ones” who all are the sons and daughters of the same Creator.”