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GAFCON rebuked for calling the Anglican Church in Brazil a Province of the Anglican Communion

18 May 2018


Dr Idowu-Fearon (centre), pictured in 2015, with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, Bishop James Tengatenga, at Lambeth Palace

Dr Idowu-Fearon (centre), pictured in 2015, with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, Bishop James Tengate...

GAFCON is wrong to call the Anglican Church in Brazil a Province of the Anglican Communion, the secretary-general of the Communion, the Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said this week.

The Anglican Church in Brazil was launched on Saturday at the Paróquia Anglicana do Espírito Santo (Anglican Church of the Holy Spirit), in Recife. The Most Revd Miguel Uchoa Cavalcanti was installed as its Primate.

A press release from GAFCON described it as “a new biblically orthodox Province which has been recognized by the GAFCON Primates Council not only as part of GAFCON, but also as a Province of the Anglican Communion”.

Dr Idowu-Fearon said on Monday: “It is inaccurate to refer to the Anglican Church in Brazil as being part of the Episcopal Anglican Communion. To be part of the Anglican Communion requires being in communion with the see of Canterbury, which this Church is not.”

The Primate of Brazil, the Most Revd Francisco de Assis da Silva, whose Church is in communion with Canterbury, expressed “sadness for that inconsequent attitude that is committed against our Province, acting against the recommendation expressed by the Primates, in their last meeting, that no one will be allowed to practise cross-border.

“This group has been, for over a decade and a half, the source of divisions, misappropriation of Church property, and selfishness for considering themselves authentic guardians of the scripture and orthodoxy. This is another wound in the body of Christ.”

The breakaway diocese of Recife was established by the Bishop of Recife, the Rt Revd Robinson Cavalcanti, in 2003, in response to the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson in the Episcopal Church. When Bishop Cavalcanti left, he took 32 clergy and their congregations with him, including several church properties. He was deposed by the Anglican Church of Brazil, on the grounds that he had broken communion, and, in 2013, a judge ruled that all property must be returned to the Anglican diocese of Recife (News, 26 July, 2013).

Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his his wife, Miriam, were found murdered in their home in 2012 (News, 2 March 2012). Archbishop Miguel Uchoa Cavalcanti, who was then Rector of the Anglican Church of the Holy Spirit, succeeded him as Bishop of the diocese.

Last year, the Membership Development Secretary, Charles Raven, reported that the diocese had more than 60 pastors and 45 congregations, and that it had planted 33 new churches in the past five years.

Primate addresses African council. The Archbishop of Canterbury has advised Anglican bishops in Africa to learn from the mistakes of the Church in the Global North, which include a failure to disciple young people.

Addressing the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa in Kenya last week, Archbishop Welby described the Church on the continent as a “gift to the world”, Anglican Communion News Service reported.

But he urged the leaders to “learn from the mistakes of the Global North — to be wary of individualism and not to be complacent about the numbers of young people currently in churches across the continent”.

The North had “failed to disciple young people in previous decades”. Because, in the 1950s, most children in the UK went to Sunday school, the Church had thought “this is all right, we can go to sleep”.

He also argued that the Church must change in order to enjoy influence. There was now “a lack of confidence in the gospel, which meant the Church was becoming inward-looking rather than going out. . . We cannot wait until we are all together, or we all agree, or we are all holy — because the world is perishing. We must move forward to serve the world, even when we disagree.”

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