Gays and lesbians scapegoated in Brazilian Church

by Revd Mario Ribas

Gays and lesbians are being used as scapegoats in the Brazilian in issues that are intrinsically about power.

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Recife, withdraws from Episcopal Church

The Dean and the 3,500 members congregation of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Recife, in the Northeast of Brazil, have decided to withdraw themselves from the Episcopal Church of Brazil. The first information given is that the conflict began between the Dean and the Bishop on the grounds of issues of divorce and non legally married couples in the Church. It is said that with the Bishop’s permission theologians within the diocese have worked towards alternative rites to bless divorcees (at the end of a divorce process), and alternative rites to bless couples who are already living together, or do not want to marry according to the civil law due to economic implications.

However Holy Trinity Cathedral has developed its ministry focusing on the “Married Encounter with Christ”, a program set up to evangelise couples, and to proclaim family values. To them, such a move would be unacceptable. Dismayed by the bishop’s decision, the Dean and the PCC signed a letter withdrawing the parish church from the diocese. Holy Trinity Cathedral is considered to be the biggest Anglican Church in Latin America, and is a conservative evangelical church, within the mostly evangelical and conservative diocese of Brazil.

Homosexual liberty the real reason

It has been also reported in the ‘Jornal do Commercio’, a local newspaper in Recife, that the reason the Very Revd. Paulo Garcia is leaving the Anglican Church is also due to the “exaggerated liberty homosexual people have in the Church”, even though the Recife diocesan canons clearly state that no one of a homosexual orientation, or even those who accept this orientation as normal could be ordained within the diocese. The newspaper also reports the bishop as saying that the Dean, in his 33 years of ministry has never been able to incorporate the Anglican pluralistic tradition, and take orders from his superiors. Paulo Garcia has not yet decided which denomination they shall join.

Gays used as scapegoats

The diocese is now dealing with the church property issues, as the Dean and the PCC are not willing to leave the Church building which formerly was an English Chaplaincy. The Dean held a press conference to publicise the split. As a well-known and respected man within Recife’s society it is doubtful that Mr. Garcia would have the courage to say the main reason why he is leaving the Church is divorce because this is an issue that Brazilian society overcame a long time ago. Instead, it is easier to say it is because of gay liberties within the church which would get many people to support his decision. It is fashionable within the Anglican Communion nowadays to use gays and lesbians as scapegoats in conflicts that are intrinsically about power.

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