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Last week, members of the IEAB were part of an ecumenical mission in favor of the rights of indigenous peoples
The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil – IEAB, was part of the ”Ecumenical Mission” for the second consecutive year. This is a partnership with the CESE – Coordinator of the Ecumenical Service, CIMI – Indigenous Council, CEBI – Center for Biblical Studies and CONIC – National Council of Christian Churches in Brazil. Over the past year the illegal exploitation of land by loggers, landowners and fazenderos are a symptom of a national problem that Brazil confronts regarding land ownship.The region of Mato Grosso do Sul is one of the most affected. The Guarani-Kaiowa and the Terena people, who are still awaiting the demarcation of the their indigenous land, suffer the consequences of a strong wave of violence as a result of these unresolved land issues. Hundreds of Guarani-Kaiowa and Terena people have been removed from their ancestral homes for agribusiness in the form of soya plantations and cattle raising.
According to CIMI, over the past 12 years, more than 500 people committed suicide and another 390 were brutally murdered in the onslaught of removing families from areas for agribusiness, which originally belonged to the indigenous people. The different organizations that form the ecumenical mission strongly advocated for an investigation of the abuse suffered by the Guarani-Kaiowa and Terena people. On June 14, near the village of the Guarani-Kaiowá in the municipality of Caarapo, an indigenous community health worker Achilles Clodiodi Rodrigues de Souza, twenty-three years old, was shot dead, and another 5 Guarani were taken with severe gunshot wounds to the local hospital in Dourados/MS. As reported by the residents of the area, men in trucks, tractors and motorcycles were shooting for all sides.
After the incident, a large group of indigenous people dispersed and occupied land in order to protect themselves. This has generated conflict with the owners of those lands. Clodiodi was buried at the site of the attack and his grave has become a symbol of the struggle of the Guarani-Kaiowa and Terena peoples to regain their land.
Days 14 and 15 July, return of the mission: “N’handeru had said that there will be resistance!”
The IEAB took part along with other members of the ecumenical mission in a public act in front of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Mato Grosso do Sul. The ecumenical group expressed its total support to the indigenous cause, pleaded for the immediate end to killings and conflicts and to work towards the resolution of the conflicts.
In attendance were Bishop Flavio Irala, Bishop of the Diocese of Sao Paulo and President of CONIC, Dom Naudal Alves Gomes, Bishop of the Diocese of Curitiba and chairman of the National Committee of Public Incidence of IEAB, the missionaries that are members of Mission Desk of The IEAB, Monica Vega and Heidi Schmidt, Vagner Mendes, staff member of the Secretary General of the IEAB, Rev. Hugo Sanchez, Rector of the Mission of the inclusion in Campo Grande – MS, along with the parishioners Emanuel, Lucy, Cleide and Maria Helena.
A very powerful moment was experienced as the tribes greeted and danced together and welcomed the religious leaders who came to express their support to the native people. They danced together and the ecumenical mission was blessed in accordance with the Guarani-Kaiowa and Terena people’s faith.
Meeting with the Federal Justice Judge
After the public act in support of the rights of indigenous peoples, the members of the mission, together with the indigenous people, were received by the attorney general of the state. The attorney general explained all the legal measures that were taken since the last gathering in Oct 2015. The indigenous leaders took the opportunity to bring their grievances, especially the lack of effective responses to their pleas, with particular emphasis on the long overdue demarcation of their indigenous land. The ecumenical mission committed itself to follow-up in this process. At the end of the meeting the caravan continued its journey toward Dourados, where they arrived in the evening and were hosted by St Andrew’s Catholic Church. St Andrew’s parish offered dinner and a time for conversations with 3 Guarani leaders. As we sat in a circle and listened attentively to the stories and the pleas of the Guarani-Kaiowa, it was very clear that the indigenous people carry within an ancestral pain due to the loss of their land and the way of living at the hands of the landowners. The haunting echo of the few words told to us by the leaders still resonates as the lament of the prophets of the Old Testament, “do not forget us”.
Visit to Caarapo
The village of the Guarani-Kaiowa is located at the Yvu farm, more than 270km from Campo Grande, the state capital of Mato Grosso do Sul. This was the meeting place for the caravan and the indigenous leaders, together with their people. This was another powerful moment in which different cultures and faiths meet together in search for dignity, solidarity, and support. The
ceremony was opened by the Cacique (chief), with words of welcome and appreciation for the concern of the churches towards the indigenous cause. With pauses for prayers, the leaders and visitors shared profound, sacred moments with songs and conversations. After sharing a meal the whole group moved to the graveside of Clodiodi, where in a circle of prayer the silent reverberation of grief was deeply felt, and the blood-stained Brazilian flag waved above us in the wind.
Visit to the Apka’i: the Power of the Ancestors
Chief Damiana is the leader of a small indigenous community on the banks of the river. This community was bulldozed, destroying their homes, killing some men, women and children, and were expelled from their ancestral land. Chief Damiana anguishes as she has not been able to bury the dead in their land, and the ancestral cemetery is now part of a farm. Now she stands vigil from the roadside where she has made her dwelling place with the few belongings left to them.
She stands there as a marker to those not only traveling by car and bus, but to remind us all that at the margins of the road we always find the injured, waiting for a Samaritan who can take them to an inn for rest and recovery.
The IEAB continues to support the struggles of the Guarani-Kaiowa
We know as Church that the struggle continues, that much blood has been spilled, and that greed behind the profits that come from these lands destroys hundreds of peoples and their livelihood and culture each and everyday. As Church we commit ourselves to advocate for them in Brazil as well as abroad. This is the plea of a people who are Brazilian, and bonds us to the struggles of all humanity to preserve our style of life, our lands, and our beliefs.
NOTE FROM THE BRAZILIAN CHURCH TO THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH (TEC)
Passage to Eternity of Bishop Edmond Lee Browning
Sao Paulo, July 12th 2016
“The love of God extends to the whole creation. Every life, beginning with ours, is precious to God. Christian people has always believed that there is hope, both in life and death, and that is new life in Christ, even after physical death”. Common Book of Prayer Brazil
This Monday, July 11th 2016 we, from Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil (IEAB), learned with sadness about the passing of Bishop Edmond Lee Browning. In this time of mourning we send our affection and solidarity both to the People and the Clergy of The Episcopal Church.
Bishop Browning has left a precious theological-pastoral legacy to the Anglican Communion by safely leading the Church beyond borders of so many taboo and challenging issues. In a practical and generous way he has built up bridges with sister churches, in an effective gesture of what has been called “Partners in Mission”. Yes, he has gone beyond physical and human thought borders, towards the other in a passionate manner, with no restrictions!
Edmond Browning was a great friend of the Brazilian Church when held the office of 24th Bishop President of The Episcopal Church and left spiritual marks when took part in the celebration of IEAB Centenary (1890-1990). For us, Brazilians, it was the time of the “Church We Live” slogan that challenged Brazil to open a new paradigm of Church as community of faith, where Christ incarnates. Bishop Browning and the former Primate, Dom Olavo Ventura Luiz started a new movement in relations between our churches, which for some time had been asleep, and mother and daughter church rebuilt their affective and historical relations. They took actions to bring two provinces even closer. We then became part of CETALC membership, searching “to make Anglican theology in the Latin American and Caribbean context” in a deeper manner. With the creation of Bilateral Committee, there was a gradual insertion of Brazilian leaderships in TEC events and programs trying to find new ways of doing Mission.
We want to express our gratitude for the life and ministry of Bishop Edmond Browning, who was truly a “Shepherd of Sheep”, encouraging and supporting all people baptized in their ministries and gifts!
At last but not least, we want to join our voices with those of all who lived with and met Bishop Browning, saying wholeheartedly and out loud: “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23
++ Francisco de Assis da Silva
Primate Bishop of IEAB
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
James 3: 17-18
Dear brothers and sisters, citizens of this country, which gives name also to our Church.
We would like to reaffirm what we already said in our document “In Defense of Democracy and Social Justice and Against the Impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff”, published on Dec 10, 2015. In this document we express our understanding that the process of impeachment is steered by political leaders, many of which are being “investigated for corruption, are well known defenders of the business sector which historically has benefitted from public funds.”
The historical churches which have never had direct involvement with this or any other government, and which do not hold any other political post, have expressed themselves regarding this issue. These churches reaffirm the defense of the due legal process and the institutional proceedings for democracy. They therefore do not defend a particular party or political leader, rather, they defend the social and economic policies that will reduce the extreme poverty as well as facilitate the access to housing, education, and health services to millions of people who are excluded from these non-negotaible human rights.
The National Council of Christian Churches (CONIC) which includes the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran Church of Brazil, the United Presbyterian Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, and our IEAB published a document “Statement on the Defense of Democracy by the Religious Organizations of Brazil”, endorsed by people of different religions, express that they do not “agree with the judicialization of politics, the partisanship of the judiciary, making a spectacle of the judicial procedures. These kinds of practices contribute to the discrediting of the institution and foster polarized positions. Therefore the Brazilian population casts shadows on the justice system. We respect those who think differently. We defend the right to a plural and democratic society. We encourage to be faithful in an honest dialogue with those who hold political opinions contrary to our own.”
Our Presiding Bishop the Right Reverend Francisco de Assis da Silva, reaffirms that:
“…the investigation into corruption of public servants in all its powers, and in association with some from the business sector, are an attack on the people. They should be confronted within the rule of law only. These investigations are only legitimate when there is proof and when the right to a defense is guaranteed. The corporate interests from the major media outlets cannot and should not be ideologically selective and they cannot condemn anyone beforehand because of their political ideologies.”
In addition to fully embrace the statements quoted above, we, would like to express our opinion because of the pastoral and evangelical task given to us to shepherd not only the people who attend our churches, but the entire Brazilian society:
1. That the way in which the impeachment process has been conducted shows clear vices, it does not prove crime according to the current legislations and hides the true intent of preventing the continuity of the social policies that have changed the lives of millions of Brazilians in recent years.
2. The for the goodness of the Brazilian society and its citizens, the fight against corruption should continue at all levels. We advocate a comprehensive reform of the political and electoral system in Brazil through a referendum which establishes clear procedures to finance campaigns, eliminating abuse and focuses on the welfare of the Brazilian people.
3. As was recommended in the letter of our Presiding Bishop, we, who have different political beliefs, should seek to respect the free expression of thoughts of the other in ways that renounce hatred and violence against individuals or groups. These forms of intolerance hinder the democratic society we strive to build in peace and justice.
We believe it is our pastoral and prophetic duty to raise our vices as part of Christ’s Church in defense of justice, truth and peace following the words of James “now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” and echoing the psalm 85:10 “mercy and truth meet, righteousness and peace have embraced.”
We call on all people of good will to work in preserving the democratic values of the Brazilian society.
Sao Paulo, March 31, 2016
Dom Francisco de Assis da Silva, Bispo Primaz e Diocesano da Sul Ocidental
Dom Naudal Gomes, Bispo da Diocese Anglicana de Curitiba
Dom Filadelfo Oliveira, Bispo da Diocese Anglicana do Rio de Janeiro
Dom Mauricio Andrade, Bispo da Diocese Anglicana de Brasilia
Dom Saulo Barros, Bispo da Diocese Anglicana da Amazônia
Dom Renato Raatz, Bispo da Diocese Anglicana de Pelotas
Dom Flavio Irala, Bispo da Diocese Anglicana de São Paulo
Dom Humberto Maiztegui, Bispo da Diocese Meridional
Dom João Peixoto, Bispo da Diocese Anglicana do Recife
The bursting of the Fundão and Santarém dams, of the mineral company Samarco, controlled by the Vale do Rio Doce and by the Anglo-Australian company BHP, occurred on the 5th November, provoking an avalanche of mud mixed with toxic residues causing 24 deaths, and leaving over 600 people homeless, as well as the environmental damage to the whole region around the town of Mariana and the district of Bento Rodrigues. Those affected were river communities, rural workers, some working in this very mineral company, families with not much income. The tragedy reached beyond the limits of the state of Minas Gerais, hitting various towns in the state of Espirito Santo.
The mineral industry, in general, is one of the human activities that most affects life on Earth through its destructive impacts on ecosystems, and is an enormous contributor to global warming with the emission of greenhouse gases, when it does not consider strategies to reduce risks and mechanisms of sustainable development.
Equally, with its enormous potential for profit and dividends, which, added to corruption, is one of the industrial activities with the least regulation from local, regional and federal governments. These governments should interfere in order to control and forbid the excessive exploitation of the soil in the face of clear evidence of imminent catastrophe, always prioritizing the right to human and environmental protection and the rights of future generations, since the damage caused in Mariana and Bento Rodrigues will affect the next two generations.
A tragedy like this is not a mere accident, but it is the result of a succession of errors that were not contemplated with due relevance, leading to a disaster which was not caused by one factor alone. This cluster of errors is added to the total lack of government control as well as the crime of prioritizing profits over human and environmental safety.
We believe it really was a crime not to take the necessary precautions as well as not planning emergency mechanisms for a possible bursting of the dam and, in an extreme case, warning the population in advance to minimize the effects of a mud avalanche. It is not enough to compensate the families. The power of decision-making in these companies needs to be decentralized when it comes to natural resources, since they are not infinite, nor are they renewable without the necessary sustainability. However, the owners of the Samarco mineral company are not taking on responsibility for the event, which makes their criminal behaviour more emphatic as they are not offering a clear and effective mechanism of repairing the damage after the event.
Tragedies like this arouse feelings compassion and solidarity, but also of resentment, impotence, anger and pain. Anyone could be affected in the future. Therefore, it is essential to denounce this predatory model supported by the market economy that favours profits in detriment of people’s lives!
So I ask the Church to PRAY:
Ø That the necessary precautions and actions be taken both by the government and by the mineral companies in order to prevent the third dam in Germano from bursting and increasing the damage to the people there.
Ø That those affected by the dam may be compensated and that they may receive decent housing, work and infrastructure to rebuild their lives.
Ø That human ambition for wealth may cease and that profit may not be put above life, thereby avoiding other disasters caused by neglect and corruption.
Ø That those who suffered may have the right to humanitarian support and may receive food supplies, clothes and basic, quality provisions.
Ø That the water supply may be guaranteed to all the populations around the towns affected by the avalanche of mud, which is polluting the rivers and the springs.
Ø That the governments implement strategies directed at avoiding disease, epidemics and toxic contamination due to the avalanche of mud.
Ø That we may become more aware of the needs of our neighbours who, in this case, are our brothers and sisters in Mariana and the District of Bento Rodrigues in Minas Gerais, as well as several villages and towns in Espirito Santo.
Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva
The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGs):
A PLATFORM THAT CHALLENGES THE CHURCH TO ACT!
“The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him” Deuteronomy 28:9
Precisely fifteen years ago, the UN approved a human development programme based on what it is called “the Millennium Goals”. It was an ambitious programme to be implemented in all the world’s nations and destined to overcome the state of poverty in countries that showed shameful levels of exclusion in the fields of health, education, distribution of wealth, gender inequality, among other essential points that make up the Human Development Index (HDI).
The ambitious programme presented some encouraging results in some of the world’s nations, but still hasn´t reached the desired levels, although it should be recognised that things have improved. The economic crises were challenging and the increasing military tension after the 9/11 of 2001, caused an enormous waste of military expenses – a few hundred billion dollars – resulting into diverting the priorities of governments into a greater attention to social affirmative programmes.
The recent UN Conference on SDGs unanimously approved a new programme of sustainable development, with a methodology that is more open to civil society participation and less dependent on governments, and intends to overcome inequality in the world, until 2030. These are the so-called Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs.
According to the SDGs, world action is expected in the areas such as eradicating poverty, food security, agriculture, health, education, gender equality, reduction of inequalities, energy, water and sanitation, sustainable consumption and production, climate change, sustainable cities, protection and sustainable use of oceans and terrestrial ecosystems, inclusive economic growth, infrastructure, industrialization, among others.
It is a bold agenda because, at first sight, there are many goals which will require mobilizing a huge amount of resources and also dealing with contexts of conflicts and seasonal economic crises.
From the Church point of view, we are called to effectively contribute to this project which has a lot to do with our way of living out our mission. The marks of Anglican mission oblige us to offer our theological and pastoral contribution to our governmental and social partners as well as to those who walk with us ecumenically and in dialogue – whatever their faith is – to fulfil the SDGs in our local contexts and throughout the whole of the Anglican Communion.
We believe in a God of Justice and of Love. Our God does not rejoice in injustice nor in a system that generates inequality among fellow human beings. Nor does our God rejoice in the selfish and irresponsible use of the environment, which causes serious harm to life on the planet through the selfish and accumulative use of resources which ignores the lives of the less favoured and vulnerable in the world.
Evangelizing is, essentially, spreading the Good News to the world. I convoke the IEAB (The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil), in all its bodies, to study and share – from the local communities up to the provincial bodies – the platform of the SDGs. The appropriation of this platform will guide us to find ways through which our pastoral leaders may interact to help to shape our communities into agents of transformation. I convoke the Human Rights and Advocacy Committee and the National Committee of Diaconia – as instruments of reflection on the action of the Church – to study deeply this platform and to support the entire Church to prepare concrete actions to keep struggling for a Brazilian society that is democratically strong, economically and socially fair and environmentally responsible. In order to do this we have many partners who are prepared to follow this path of witness and grace with our people.
May God inspire us to serve him with love and courage!
Santa Maria, September 29th, 2015.
Primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil
The Rev Bishop Edmund Knox Sherrill, retired bishop of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB) 1959-1985, died peacefully this morning Oct 2, 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bishop Edmund Knox Sherrill was the last of the bishops from the Episcopal Church of the United States that served as missionaries in Brazil. He was the son of Henry Knox Sherrill, Presiding Bishop of TEC between 1947-1958. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, his children Elizabeth, Florence and Henry, and his grandchildren.The Most Reverend Dom Francisco Assis da Silva, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, is deeply grateful for the life of Bishop Sherrill and his missionary work and ministries in Brazil. Please know that our prayers and the prayers of the Church are with the family during this time. Funeral arrangements have not been announced as yet. Condolences can be sent to the Office of the Secretary General firstname.lastname@example.org .
Dear Brothers and sisters,
“No human body can in any circumstances be an object to be enslaved.”
Archbishop Justin Welby
On this week, we celebrate internationally the Campaign against Human Trafficking. This is a human tragedy that only in the last years has been noticed by governments and non-governmental organizations. In our country, human rights bodies have denounced several categories of human trafficking, such as slave labor, organ trafficking, sexual exploitation of boys and girls and illegal adoption of children. Human trafficking has no borders and exists both here in Brazil and abroad. According to statistics put together by several international bodies, Brazil occupies the 10th position in the world in terms of human trafficking reported cases, but we must keep in mind several cases go unreported.
Brazilian society must be more conscious about this silent and obscure problem, which amasses at least 30 billion dollars in the world, enriching national and international mafias. Children and adults are lured into a world of dreams that becomes a nightmare. Economic and social exploitation submits them to undignifying living conditions and, many times, to death.
The Church reaffirms its commitment to human dignity and places itself emphatically against such crimes. Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and carries an ontological dignity which must not be violated. No person should be submitted to restrictions on his/her freedom, mobility and ability to choose work. Nobody should be traded as merchandise, regardless of age, social condition or gender.
This week, the United Nations promotes several activities around the world, under a campaign called Blue Heart, which proposes clarifications on this topic, thus informing people about these crimes. Several international bodies, churches and social organizations have joined this campaign. In Brazil, such events will happen in nearly all states.
The Anglican Communion, through the Archbishop of Canterbury, took part of a joint agreement, with other 12 world faith leaders, for the end of human trafficking last December. In several Anglican provinces, actions are being taken to raise awareness about this theme. Our Brazilian province should do the same in concrete ways.
I call upon our Province to engage with combatting and preventing human trafficking. May our dioceses and churches save some time to gather their members and discuss about it, offering prayers for victims and their families. These actions can be done in partnership with other churches and human rights organizations. If there’s no local network against human trafficking, why not organize parish-based groups?
May God inspire us to take into consideration this time as an opportunity so we learn about this topic and take action protecting victims, preventing these crimes, and proclaiming prophetic words wherever we are.
May God bless all of us.
++ Francisco, Primate
In the light of the decisions of canonical and liturgical character taken by General Convention regarding the marriage of people of the same sex, I want to express the following words:
- We respect deeply the TEC’s autonomous decision because this is a constitutive feature of our Anglican Communion.
- The decision was made after years of theological conversation, which reflects the degree of maturity of the Episcopal Church.
- This decision was taken in a spirit of prayer and reflected the overwhelming majority of the Church by lay and clerical representatives.
- The decision saved an important pastoral principle to offer to those who do not feel comfortable with, offering freedom of conscience.
The Church of Brazil feels strengthened by the fact that here we are also living a broad process of reflection on the search for consensus on this issue. In our country, since 2011, the Supreme Court already recognizes the legality of civil marriage between people of same sex.
Our Province is discussing this matter – under the methodology of Indaba – in all instances of the Church. Our new Prayer Book already contemplates a change of language, stabilishing the gender neutrality that is a significant step of inclusivity. This change do not requires us to celebrate matrimony between people of same sex, but we’re open to the future and new pastoral requirements from our time.
We see with joy changing processes in the churches of Canada and Scotland. We see with joy advances in discussion of the theme in the churches of England, Wales, Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. We must respect this process which also occur in dioceses and parts of other Anglican Provinces.
I pray to God so that these processes are done with honest listening from all people. As Province within our Communion, we are committed to the unity and do not agree with any initiative that seeks to isolate the provinces that are adopting new pastoral and theological perspectives.
My hope is that in our next Primates meeting we can have sincere and honest conversation. We should not have a single issue agenda, but we need be open to conversation.
I understood the Archbishop of Canterbury’s reflection on the resolutions changing the canons as expressing a concern, but not as an objection to the passing of the resolutions in an autonomous church. I greatly welcome and share his concern and trust that we can walk on together.
I reaffirm my solidarity on the ways where the Episcopal Church is searching to be a safe site for all!
God bless our Anglican Communion and let`s stay in dialogue!
Primate of Brazil