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  • NSIEAB 7:11 PM on 11/18/2015 Permalink | Reply  

    An Inexcusable Crime against Present and Future Generations 

    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

  • NSIEAB 4:08 PM on 10/02/2015 Permalink | Reply  




    “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.

    ++ Francisco

    Primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil

  • NSIEAB 4:00 PM on 10/02/2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Former Bishop Edmund Knox Sherrill Dies 

    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 .

  • NSIEAB 12:15 PM on 07/29/2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Primate’s message on the Week against Human Trafficking 

    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

  • NSIEAB 12:07 PM on 07/22/2015 Permalink | Reply  

    A message from Primate of Brazil related to decisions taken by TEC on Marriage understanding 

    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:

    1. We respect deeply the TEC’s autonomous decision because this is a constitutive feature of our Anglican Communion.
    2. The decision was made after years of theological conversation, which reflects the degree of maturity of the Episcopal Church.
    3. This decision was taken in a spirit of prayer and reflected the overwhelming majority of the Church by lay and clerical representatives.
    4. 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!

    ++ Francisco

    Primate of Brazil

  • NSIEAB 12:43 PM on 05/22/2015 Permalink | Reply  

    EPISCOPAL ANGLICAN CHURCH OF BRAZIL: Pastoral Letter to the God´s People about the national context 


    HOUSE OF BISHOPS: Pastoral Letter to the God´s People about the national context

    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

    Considering all the scandals and processes widely publicized by the media involving several cases of corruption on different levels, we address the people and clergy of our Church and to the whole Brazilian society, expressing our concerns about the reality:

    a) Corruption is an historical evil in this country, including during the periods of civil-military dictatorships. We understand that tackling corruption is encouraging, it preserves democratic system, promotes political reform with a significant participation of the population, it involves commitment to changes in political culture and the strengthening of citizenship.

    b) Corruption is present in both public and private spheres, affecting national and international companies. It is important for us to realise that the role of the media has been partial and not very clarifying, as it expresses its own interests and preferences and not the true magnitude of this evil.

    c) The National Congress of Brazil was elected with the support from strong economic interests, strengthening the more conservative sectors which are very against the worker class and human rights. A proof of this is the resistance to a political reform and the end of business financing for electoral campaigns; the attempt to increase the scope of outsourcing, the proposal of the revision of the statute on disarmament and the demarcation of indigenous land, among other points of suppression of rights.

    d) One aspect that needs our special attention is the attempt to reduce the legal age of criminal responsibility. It won´t neither eliminate the causes of crimes nor will alleviate the situation of violence in our country, as the youth of our Church have clearly declared.

    e) On the other hand, the federal government, composed by indefinite alliances, proposes a fiscal adjustment that only penalizes the workers, putting at risk social programmes aimed to overcome inequalities and makes even more difficult the access to fundamental rights in health, education, security, among others. In the meantime, the wealthy continue to enjoy tax protection.

    As Bishops of the IEAB (Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil), we commit ourselves to:

    1. Support the movement for a Referendum on Political Reform;

    2. Continue resisting the proposal of reducing the legal age of criminal responsibility;

    3. Tackle corruption, motivating and promoting transparency and democratic participation in both public and private spheres;

    4. Strength the social and ecumenical movements, defending justice and peace and affirming human rights and the integrity of creation. We remember that the Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion should be our principles in the aim to transform society in the light of the values of the Kingdom of God:

    i) To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom;

    ii) To teach, baptise and nurture new believers;

    iii) To respond to human need by loving service;

    iv)To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation;

    v) To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the Earth;

    We pray for our country, its people and for a better world for all people.

    Santa Maria, 14th May 2015

    Bishop Francisco Assis da Silva, Bishop Primate, Santa Maria, RS

    Bishop João Cancio Peixoto, Recife, PE

    Bishop Naudal Alves Gomes, Curitiba, PR

    Bishop Filadelfo Oliveira Neto, Rio de Janeiro, RJ

    Bishop Mauricio José Araujo de Andrade, Brasília, DF

    Bishop Saulo Mauricio de Barros, Belém, PA

    Bishop Renato da Cruz Raatz, Pelotas, RS

    Bishop Humberto Maiztegui, Porto Alegre, RS

    Bishop Flavio Irala, São Paulo, SP

  • NSIEAB 11:10 AM on 03/13/2015 Permalink | Reply


    A dream you dream alone is only a dream.

    A dream you dream together is the beginning of reality.

    (Miguel de Cervantes)

    The II meeting of Portuguese-speaking Churches of the Anglican Communion gathered under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the city of Recife, in Pernambuco State, Brazil, from 26 to 28 February, 2015, brought together people, among delegates and guests, including bishops, clerics and laypersons of the Dioceses of the Lebombo and Niassa (Mozambique) and Angola of the Anglican Church of southern Africa, the Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church (Portugal) and the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB), being the last hosting the Event, which took place with the partnership and support of Anglican Alliance and The United Society (Us). In addition to these organizations, also present were: the representative of the IEAB in the Anglican Consultative Council (CCA), the National Commission of Social Diakonia of the IEAB; the Anglican Service of Diakonia and Development (SADD) of the IEAB; Anglican Studies Center (CEA) of the IEAB; the Youth Working Group of the IEAB; the Anglican Episcopal women’s Union of Brazil (UMEAB); the Anglican Institute of theological studies and the Department of Women of the Lusitanian Church; the Mothers ‘ Union, of Lebombo, Mozambique.

    The meeting constituted an important space of celebration, sharing and reflection, with devotional moments, plenary sessions, sharing in groups, Bible study with the theme “who is/my/ neighbour”, from the text of Luke 10:25 -37; and a WEBINAR streamed online. The agenda had featured the following generating themes: (a) the role of young people; (b) the role of women; (c) Christian education and theological training; (d) diakonia and social development.

    The delegations of these churches (8 bishops, 3 priestesses, 6 priests, 1 deacon, 6 laywomen and 3 laymen), that together represent a community of about 350,000 anglican people, distributed over different continents and sociocultural contexts. The meeting emphasised the role of the Portuguese language as an element of unity in diversity, both for the countries represented at the meeting, but also to other Portuguese-speaking communities around the world. All persons participating expressed the wish of issuing this Declaration, to convey the main conclusions and commitments of collaboration.

    Thus, it was agreed the development of effective efforts from which concrete results can emerge:

    a)     To promote in each Church the dissemination of the action of the different Anglican Churches of Portuguese expression;

    b)    To establish relations of partnership in mission among different Portuguese-speaking Anglican dioceses and other actions of relationship, exchange of delegations and sharing of information and resources;

    c)     To request the solidarity and support of other organizations of the Anglican world to carry out these actions, and, in particular, for the convening of the next Portuguese-speaking meeting within three years;

    d)    Henceforth to create, from its own resources, the Working Group, consisting of one representative of each of the churches or dioceses: Helen Van Koevering, presbíter, Niassa, Moçambique; Joana Chilengue, lay, Libombos, Moçambique; Jorge Pina Cabral, bishop, Portugal; Kiaku Eduardo Avelino, presbíter, Angola; Paulo Ueti, lay theologian, Brasil.

    This working group will be responsible for monitoring these actions; and for presenting to the competent authorities a request for establishment of the Lusophone Network of Anglican Communion, that includes in its agenda, among others, the generating themes reflected in the Meeting.

    We believe in God; We believe in the power of poor people,

    In the audacity of those poets,Iin the boldness of the prophets, In the inspiration of the artists.

    We believe in Jesus, we believe in humility to serve;

    In the courage to transform, in the joy of celebrating,

    In the respect of the differences, in the bread for the whole table, in comfort for every sorrow.

    We believe in the Spirit, we believe in the hope of starting over;

    In the beauty of the gesture of solidarity, in fairness to all oppression, in compassion before pain,

    In love, divine-human gift. Amen.

    Recife, February 28, 2015

    André Soares, bispo diocesano, Angola;
    António Manuel Silva, Instituto Anglicano de Estudos Teológicos, Portugal;
    Arthur Cavalcante, presbítero, secretário geral, Brasil;
    Brígida Arbiol Pereira, leiga, Departamento de Mulheres, Portugal;
    Carlos Simão Matsinhe, bispo diocesano, Libombos, Moçambique;
    Christina Manning, assessora de comunicação, Anglican Alliance;
    Christina Takatsu Whinnischofer, leiga, União das Mulheres Episcopais Anglicanas do Brasil;
    David Pessoa de Lira, diácono, Recife, Brasil;
    Francisco Silva, bispo primaz, Brasil;
    Helen Van Koevering, presbítera, Niassa, Moçambique;
    Ilcélia Soares, leiga, Comissão Nacional de Diaconia, Brasil;
    Joabe Cavalcanti, presbítero, Us, Inglaterra;
    Joana Chilengue, leiga, União das Mães, Libombos, Moçambique;
    Joanildo Burity, leigo, Conselho Consultivo Anglicano, Brasil;
    João Câncio Peixoto, bispo diocesano, Recife, Brasil;
    Jordan Santos, presbítero do Grupo de Trabalho da Juventude do  Brasil
    José Jorge Pina Cabral, bispo diocesano, Portugal;
    Jossias Solomone, presbítero, Libombos, Moçambique;
    Kiaku Eduardo Avelino, presbítero deão, Angola;
    Lilian Conceição da Silva Pessoa de Lira, presbítera, Recife, Brasil;
    Manuel Ernesto, bispo sufragâneo, Niassa, Moçambique;
    Marinez Rosa dos Santos Bassotto, presbítera, Comissão Nacional de Diaconia, Brasil;
    Mark Van Koevering, bispo diocesano, Niassa, Moçambique;
    Mauricio Andrade, bispo diocesano, Brasília, Brasil;
    Paulo Ueti, teólogo leigo, Anglican Alliance, Brasil;
    Pedro Triana, presbítero, Centro de Estudos Anglicanos, Brasil;
    Sandra Andrade, leiga, Serviço Anglicano de Diaconia e Desenvolvimento, Brasil; Comitê Coordenador da Anglican Alliance.
  • NSIEAB 12:11 AM on 02/26/2015 Permalink | Reply  

    We are Anglicans and speak the Portuguese Language! 

    The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil welcome between  February 26-28 in Recife / PE, the second meeting of Portuguese speaking Dioceses of the Anglican Communion with support from the Anglican Communion Office, the Anglican Alliance and the US (formerly USPG).

    According to the Primate Bishop of the IEAB Dom Francisco de Assis Silva “(…) the meeting will be an opportunity to strengthen ties between the Portuguese-speaking churches, opening possibilities of cooperation in the areas of  Theological Education, Diakonia and Development and Mission”. He also points out that  “(…) the Portuguese-speaking Anglicans have a large contribution to make to the Anglican Communion. The Brazilian delegation at the meeting brings together key representatives of the Province, thus revealing what a great importance this initiave is for Brazil.”

    We currently have a population of 267 396 837 Portuguese speaking people in the world.

    Besides the Primate Bishop Dom Francisco de Assis Silva and the Provincial General Secretary Rev. Arthur Cavalcante, there will be other provincial representations such as: UMEAB (Union of Episcopal Anglican Women of Brazil), SADD (Anglican Services of Diakonia and Development), CEA (Anglican Studies Center) and the  Youth Working Group.

    The Portuguese Speaking Dioceses of the Anglican Communion will have the opportunity to share their achievements and challenges as Anglicans in Europe (Luzitana Church), Africa ( Diocese of Lebombo, Diocese of Niassa and the Diocese of Angola) and Latin America ( the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil).

    There will be a very important moment called WEBINAR (February 27th at 11am) open to participation, questions and comments “(…) on the challenges and opportunities that this meeting offers for the present and the future of the churches involved and the people served.” For registration : use the site Anglian Alliance o contact Paul Ueti on the website

  • NSIEAB 3:10 PM on 12/10/2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Human Trafficking: a brief theological reflection 

    The Human Rights Commission of the Anglican Diocese of the Amazon decided to support the realization of an informative panel on human trafficking, in the Cathedral of St. Mary, Belém – PA, demonstrating its total rejection of this kind of violence against human beings. A courageous attitude considering that this subject involves organized crime with international connections, exchanging 35 billion reals every year, and about which society keeps a “silent pact of moral reprobation and practical accepting”[1], especially in our region of the Amazon. Nevertheless, the Commission made this decision believing that part of the prophetic vocation of the Church is to denounce all kinds of atrocities that are committed against humanity and life on the planet.

    However, this silence has been broken in some way. Since the beginning of this century, human trafficking has come to the attention of national authorities and international organizations. As a result, a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) was constituted in the Federal Chamber. The same thing happened at the Legislative Assembly in Pará with the objective of “investigating Human Trafficking in the State of Pará for sexual exploitation, slave labour, and the removal and commercialization of organs.”[2]. The theme has also become more visible in society in general when it was touched on by Glória Perez in a soap opera on the TV channel Rede Globo de Televisão, Salve Jorge.

    The Brazilian State is deficient in many ways in its attempt to confront this problem because of the lack of public policies and specific legislation. Even when it comes to defining this crime we use a document from the United Nations called Palermo Protocol, in which human trafficking is defined as:“the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”[3]

    It is clear, from the beginning, that, in order to confront this issue, we need a series of well-articulated actions, as it is a complex issue that wounds the dignity of human beings and needs a multidisciplinary approach. Aware of this, in this text I don’t intend to invade the area of other specialists, nor present data collected by the various different parliamentary commissions that have been working hard on concrete cases. My only intention here is to contribute with a brief theological reflection that supports the actions of people with good intentions who have come together to fight against injustice and in the construction of a better world.

    First of all, we learn in the Bible that God takes sides. We don’t believe in a neutral God, who is impartial, indifferent to human problems. Our God is always on the side of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized[4]. One example of this we can find in the book of Exodus, when God takes on the struggle for the liberation of a group of slaves in Egypt. This bible text is well-known in Latin American theology: “I heard the cry of my people against their oppressor… Therefore, I came down to set them free (Exodus 3:7-8). This is also how we see the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as the ultimate expression of his identification with the powerless and abandoned (Philippians 2:7-8).

    It´s for this reason we Christians are called to respond to human need through loving service, to transform the unjust structures of society and to preserve the integrity of creation, sustaining and renovating life on earth[5]. A document from the World Council of Churches reminds us that: “the Church’s place is alongside the innocent, the sacrificed lambs, the persecuted, the poor, the weak… victims, offering itself to them, completing Christ’s suffering in its body, so that the world may have life”[6]. It is not a question of an option that we may or may not choose, like some kind of accessory, we are talking about the essence of the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. Our spirituality inevitably brings us together (1 John 4:20), to care for the excluded and downhearted.

    We are also obliged to recognise the dignity of all people, as our Holy Scriptures teach us that we were created in the “image and likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26). This is why Jesus of Nazareth carried out his ministry in this direction, always emphasizing the dignity of each person, even quoting the psalmist who refers to all human being as “gods and sons of the Most High” (Psalm 82:6). The well- known Indian greeting, namastê, symbolizes this understanding very well. The gesture of bowing in front of another person has the meaning of “the god that is in me greets that god that is in you”. Anything that maculates this divine image, reflected in us, should be denounced and tackled.

    We know that trafficking supplies people mainly for prostitution forced labour and the supply of organs (although there are also more subtle forms). In all this we also need to talk about the value of the body. Even today, for many Christians, talking about the body is still a taboo, a difficult contradiction to accept in a religion that has written in part of its principal doctrinal discourse: “I believe in the resurrection of the body”. Fortunately, in the last few years, several different theological approaches have been trying to correct this diversion of the past and to regain the value of the body as part of the project of salvation. As Rubem Alves affirms well, our starting point could be the simple principal that “God made us flesh and blood”[7]. It is within the human body that what we call the spirit resides and reveals itself. “The nature of the world is part of our own nature and that of Jesus, the son of God, perfect image of God (cf. Phil 2, 5-11)”[8].

    Therefore, among the victims of human trafficking, we see the face of Christ, whose body was subject to the violence of torture. In their bodies the victims complete Christ’s suffering (Colossians 1:24). The body becomes a sanctuary for the divine encounter. As Jesus himself says that the criterion to enter the Kingdom of God and to join him, is in the gesture we make in favour of another person’s body: “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I was naked and you clothed me” (Mathew 25:35-36).

    Human trafficking has grown in our time, and many elements that cooperate for that expansion are “globalization, poverty, the lack of job opportunities, gender discrimination, domestic violence, political and economic instability in regions of conflict, irregular immigration, sexual tourism, corruption of civil servants and deficient laws”[9]. But, principally we understand that human trafficking is the result of the dominant ideology in the Western world which turns everything into a product and reifies human beings. This is the logic of the empire, which we are submitted to, the formation of powers in the new globalized society that creates a system of domination and exploitation. For the empire, the body, the human being, is just another product to be sold. It is a profitable market, generating more income than trafficking drugs or weapons.

    As in the days when John wrote the book of Revelations, we need to fight against the ideology of the empire, and maintain our loyalty to the divine Project of the construction of the Kingdom of God, redeeming the dignity of all human beings. Fighting against all forms of exploitation and oppression should be everyone’s duty, but especially those who call themselves Christians, as we have received the commissioning to be the salt and light of the world (Mathew 5:13-14).

    Because of its complexity, we know that human trafficking will never be stopped through local initiatives, only through global action will we achieve results. As Christian communities, we have the possibility of creating networks of solidarity around the world, to tackle this and other forms of de-humanization. Unfortunately, our divisions prevent us from being more efficient in what we do. While people are being made slaves and prostitutes we are discussing who can and can’t take part in the Eucharist, while children are being violated and having their organs removed, we are writing theological treaties on whose souls will reach Paradise.

    I hope that one day we may overcome our petty differences and join our forces for the construction of a new world, the utopia of the divine kingdom idealized by Jesus of Nazareth where all will have “life in abundance” (John 10:10). We cannot remain indifferent to the serious problems of humanity, to the violence against our brothers and sisters, being neutral is an option in favour of the executioners.

    +Saulo Barros

    * Belém, 15th December 2012

    [1] Marcel Hazeu <>

    [2] Legislative Assembly of Pará. Parliamentary Commission of Enquiry on Human Trafficking in the State of Pará. Final Report. Pg. 15.

    [3] Additional protocol to the Transnational Convention of the United Nations of 2000. <>

    [4] Desmond Tutu has this very reflection in his book “God is not a Christian – and other provocations”. Rio de Janeiro: Thomas Nelson Brasil, 2012. Pg. 82.

    [5] “Five Marks of Mission” approved by the Lambeth Conference of 1988.

    [6] POULTON, John. A Celebração da vida. Rio de Janeiro: CEDI, 1983. Pg. 65.

    [7] ALVES, Rubem. Creio na ressurreição do corpo: meditações. São Paulo; Edições Paulinas, 1984.

    [8] SOARES, Sebastião Armando Gameleira. Pastoral Letter: Advent 2012.

    [9] BARBOSA, Cíntia Yara Silva. Significado e abrangência do “novo” crime de tráfico internacional de pessoas: perspectivado a partir das políticas públicas e da compreensão da doutrina e jurisprudencial.(Meaning and extent of the “new” crime of international human trafficking: from the perspective of public policies and the comprehension of doctrine and jurisprudence.) Pg. 06. <>

  • NSIEAB 3:49 PM on 07/30/2014 Permalink | Reply  

    The Conflict between Israel and Palestine 

    Santa Maria, 30 July 2014

    “Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14

    Before the scenes that challenge our minds and hearts, it is impossible for us to stay quiet in the face of injustice, violence and oppression. The conflict between Israel and Palestine has reached unsupportable levels of human rights violations and of excessive Israeli military force against the people who live in the region of Gaza.

    For decades, the Palestinian people have suffered with the isolation of political apartheid caused by military incursions in their territory. Their lands are constantly invaded by illegal Israeli settlements, against clear resolutions of the United Nations about these violations. Despite all work towards the construction of peace in the Middle East, once again we encounter the brutality of war.

    The ultra-nationalism of the Israeli government has made blind ears to the appeals of the international community – including its biggest ally –  to stop the killing of civilians, the majority of whom are women and children.

    This argument of self-defense falls to the ground with the killings of children and defenseless women. Unfortunately Israel maintains this argument as part of its strategy of war. The economic nexus of the purchase and sale of weapons of war guarantees many times over the indecision of some countries, such as the United States and European countries. The ties of Israeli war policy have ramifications extending even to Brazil – such as, for example, the terms of agreement between the State of Rio Grande do Sul and an Israeli company for the development of an aerospace hub in southern Brazil.

    Only international pressure can push for a definite ceasefire, and permit real and serious negotiations for establishing a Palestinian state and an Israeli state to coexist in mutual respect without hostilities. Not every Israeli is a zionist, and not every Palestinian is an anti-semite. There exist many organizations and movements which have also posited for seeking understanding and recognition in both peoples’ right to each have its own state and self determination. Many ecumenical and interfaith initiatives have also sought this path as well.

    Armed radicals do not serve as legitimate interlocutors for the construction of peace. The logic of war is unacceptable, and even more so when it kills children, destroys hospitals, schools and infrastructure, and negates the right to secure refuge.

    We strongly reject the offensive and the destruction of Gaza by the Israeli military, and join in asking the international community to effectively pressure by all its means the government of Israel to end these unacceptable killings of innocent civilians.

    We pray for all persons who are involved in working with humanitarian assistance in Gaza and for all those who are working towards the establishment of dialogue in areas of conflict.

    ++ Francisco

    Primate of Brazil

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