Recife, Brazil – Bishops discuss evangelical/liberal clash

The camera of bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB), met in Porto Alegre on Thursday 16th September, 2004 under the presidency of the Primate, Dom. Orlando Santos Oliveira, to discuss the future of the diocese of Recife. The diocese has an evangelical majority and is led by an evangelical bishop, Robinson Cavalcanti.

On the grounds of “theological and pastoral divergences” in the diocese of Recife, supported by priests who disagree with Bishop Robinson’s theologically evangelical convictions, decrees were made to the effect that certain parishes of the Recife diocese will come under a form of special episcopal supervision by liberal bishop of Brasilia, Mauricio Andrade.

The evangelical majority in the diocese were further distressed by the behaviour of their own suffragan bishop, Dom Filadelfo Oliveira. Just weeks after formally apologizing to bishop Robinson for attending secret conspirators meetings with Recife clerics who oppose him, and re-affirming his loyalty to Dom. Robinson Cavalcanti, bishop Filadelfo, joined the other bishops in the Province in the attack on Robinson and the diocese.

Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti reportedly received less than a day’s notice of the meeting which would take place the following morning over a thousand miles away, having just completed a 36 hour return journey from a conference in Malaysia!

For many years the largely liberal (and ECUSA financed) Province of Brazil has struggled to accept the existence within it of a vibrant, committed, and mission oriented evangelical contingent based in the North East of the country.As the Lambeth Commission prepares to publish its report, it appears that the Primate, Dom Orlando with the other liberal bishops, “are bent on coercing Dom. Robinson Cavalcanti and the evangelical diocese of Recife out into the storm.” The evangelical in the diocese have expressed the opinion that the decrees made in Porto Alegre are both unjust and unacceptable.

Statement from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil

To the Brothers and Sisters of IEAB (Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil)

To the People of God of the Diocese of Recife

Grace and Peace!

The House of Bishops has gathered in the city of Porto Alegre for an extraordinary meeting under the presidency of the Primate, the Most Revd Orlando Oliveira, and attending to the request of the clergy of the Anglican Diocese of Recife and its Suffragan Bishop, in the face of recent events in that Diocese, has deliberated the following:

Considering the request from the following clergy: Revmo Sérgio L Andrade (Dean of the Anglican Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity), the Revd Gustavo Gilson S de Oliveira, ose (Principal of the Anglican Seminary for Theological Studies), the Revd Fábio Vasconcelos (the Parish of the Mediator and Chaplain of the Anglican Seminary for Theological Studies), the Revd Edmar Pimentel (the Most Holy Trinity Cathedral), the Revd Cláudio Linhares, osf (Parish of Reconciliation), the Revda. Lílian Linhares, osf, (Parish of Reconciliation), the Revd Israel Pereira C da Silva, osf, (Parish of the Good News), the Revd Bruno Luís Teles de Almeida, osf (the Parish of the Good Samaritan and the Chapel of Christ the Saviour), the Revd Severino Abel da Silva, ose (Parish of Jesus of Nazareth), the Revd Cláudio Norberto Melo da Silva, osf (Parish of Reconciliation), the Revd Francisco Sales de Melo Silva, osf, the Revd João C. Peixoto Filho and the Revd Josafá Batista dos Santos, who feel themselves to be in a climate of tension, unease and a break down of pastoral relations with their diocesan bishop, the Rt Revd Dom Robinson Cavalcanti, despite all the efforts made towards the unity of the diocese;

Considering the reports received from parishes, mission churches, and church plants which have declared through their lay leaders their support to their respective ordained ministers in their search for unity and communion with IEAB;

Considering the frequent demonstrations by the diocesan Bishop of Recife, the Rt Revd Dom Robinson Cavalcanti, towards the intimidation of clergy and laity with the threat of disciplinary measures due to pastoral and theological divergences;

Considering the need to reaffirm the unity of IEAB and the preservation of the bonds of affection and of respect to difference;

Considering what is established by Canon 3 of the General Canons of IEAB in its 1st article,

DECIDES TO:

1. Decree a special episcopal oversight for the communities and clergy of the Anglican Diocese of Recife who feel pastorally uncared for by their diocesan bishop;

2. Appoint the Rt Revd Dom Mauricio Andrade, the diocesan bishop of Brasilia, to perform the task of special episcopal oversight for the clergy and communities which are in dissent with the pastoral and theological line of the diocesan bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Recife, thus answering the need for spiritual and sacramental assistance to the respective communities and their ministers;

3. The present decision, naturally supposes that the Suffragan Bishop Dom Filadelfo Oliveira, according to his canonical prerogatives, continues to exert his pastoral ministry to the communities of the Anglican Diocese of Recife.

Most Revd Orlando Santos Oliveira

Primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil

Source: ACNS
Date: 16/09/2004

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