A National Consultation on Sexuality is to be held in the City of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in February 2002. The Primate, Bishop Glauco Soares de Lima, who seems to be sympathetic to the gay cause in the Anglican Church is supportive of the consultation. Fr Mario Ribas is the co-ordinator of this first Consultation. He was asked to organise it by his diocesan Bishop and by the Primate of the Brazilian Province after contacts made by Louie Crew of the USA suggesting an opportunity to hold a dialogue between the gay and lesbian community and the Brazilian Bishops. The event was communicated to the Bishop’s meeting, and became an official Church event. Around 40 people from all dioceses in Brazil are expected to attend. Most are sympathetic clergy and lay people. Amongst the lay people there are professionals who will make contributions to the event, as well as clergy and scholars who are giving lectures, and members of the small but representative gay and lesbian community.
The development of the issue in the Brazilian Church
In 1997 all the Brazilian bishops signed a pastoral letter which stated that homosexual people deserve the same pastoral care other people have in the Church, and they should be loved and welcome into the community of faith. They showed a real commitment to listen and study the issue although they did not recommend the blessing of same-sex relationships or the ordination of practising gays and lesbians.
The following year a conservative bishop was elected to the mostly evangelical diocese of Northeast Brazil, who has shown some ambiguities in his moral standards. On one hand he regards homosexual practises as sinful, and on the other hand he criticises the fundamentalist position held by the evangelical churches in Brazil influenced by the fundamentalists from USA. At the next synod of that diocese, a motion was passed which stated that no gays and lesbians were allowed to be ordained in that diocese, and even those who believe this condition is normal could not get ordained (even they were heterosexuals).
He has declared that he is not going to participate in this consultation, and will not encourage anyone from his diocese to attend. He justifies his position by reference to the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution, though he forgets that the resolution commits the Church to listen to gay and lesbian experience.
Fr Mario Ribas can be contacted at:email@example.com
Opposition to the Consultation
An edited version of the Statement issued by Rev. Miguel Uchôa
As far as we understand this consultation is not a demand from the Brazilian church but is rather linked with foreign interests in the Anglican Communion on the issue of sexuality. As far as we know the financial support and all the support needed will be covered by foreigners. In other words it seems to be liberal power and money supporting the Brazilian church. The Consultation is supposed to be a place where people go to consult, but this event has the gay mark, a colourful rainbow, in its advertising poster and seems to be a place to advertise a position that is not even an issue in the Brazilian church. We don’t want to import western polemics; we have our own problems and challenges to face. ALGA (Anglican Lesbian and Gay Association) is the group promoting the event, but in our country we even don’t have a branch of this group. This is what makes it clear that it is a western initiative using the Brazilian church to spread its ideas.
The event is not on sexuality, because sexuality is much wider than a rainbow supporting gay and lesbians. Anything on sexuality must include only the two genders recognized by the Bible. If we are to discuss sexuality, we are supposed to be wider in our purpose. This event does not seem to be a place to hear experiences and cannot be called inclusive, as it does not include ex-gays and lesbians who were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The respect we have for our primate, the Right Revd Glauco Soares, who usually shows his care for the church, (leaving aside his personal position on this Conference), cannot be put in doubt. Our position is against the form and the purpose of this “National” Consultation on Sexuality. The majority, not to say the totality of pastors in our diocese who are responsible for thousands of parishioners are concerned at the effects that this consultation will cause on our ministries. It will stain the name and ministry of our church, already spotted by the many headlines displayed by the international media on the sexual issue in the Anglican Church, mostly and sadly by some American, UK and Scottish Anglican leaders.
So, we want to support our Diocesan Bishop’s position, which means supporting the totality of the Lambeth Resolution about sexuality and not just the part which interests some. We are not against an inclusive church but against ethical relativism. Our Diocesan Canons were already published on this subject. They are clear on the issue of sexuality and ministry. Who ever desires to be in the ministry in this diocese must obey Canon 20, Article 3f, not having a personal opinion or defence of the normality of homosexuality and homoerotic practice, nor a homophobic position. We continue to believe in the Biblical absolutes and in the transforming power of God. We lament the initiative of importing such a questionable facet of the North American and foreign culture, which damages the image of Anglicanism in our country and doesn’t reflect the attitude and the convictions of most of our clergy and laity.
Statement made by the Rt Revd Robinson Cavalcanti, Bishop of Recife, Brazil
Episcopal Decision on 1st National Consultation on Sexuality
The Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Recife, after consultation with the Diocesan Council members, Archdeacons, the Dean of the Cathedral, clerical and lay leaders, coherent with his vote to the totality of the Resolution 1.10 (“Human Sexuality”) at Lambeth Conference, 1998, and consonant with the article 30, paragraph 1, line f, of the Diocesan Canons 20, which affirms that the inclusive and loving character of the Church is not incompatible with the normative moral authority of the Holy Scriptures and with the two thousand years of the Sacred Tradition, has decided not to attend the Consultation, nor give credentials to any diocesan delegation to it, not to recommend the clergy’s personal presence. He emphasizes that the acceptance, the affection, the practice of listening and pastoral care to all the full members of Christ’s body is made in the dependence of God’s power to transform the human being and in agreement with the Biblical Revelation as the last source of morals and pattern of the ethical goals of the Kingdom of God for people and institutions.
Recife, January 02, 2002
+Robinson Cavalcanti, OSE