a priest's musings on the journey

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Perspectives: The Rev Canon Francisco de Assis Silva, Anglican Church in Brazil, Reflects on Primates' Communique

Reflections on Dar-es-Salaam

by the Rev. Canon Francisco de Assis Silva
Provincial Secretary - The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil
Translated from http://xicoassis.blogspot.com/ by Luiz Coelho

At a recent presentation elaborated by the Rev. Dr. Carlos Calvani, of
which I had the honor of presenting in Berkeley, before an audience of
American Episcopalians, I reaffirmed that the Anglican Communion
needed to re-discover the authentic meaning of communion and get over
the illusion that the rationality embedded in certain "consentual
textual instruments" could be the warranty of unity of this part of
the Church of Christ.

Even (after)having told that to an audience that was very heterogeneous
(theologically speaking), their reaction was of a complete empathy
with the pre-supposition that a communion is made of feelings in much
more a horizontal rather than a vertical dimension of truths built by

Sadly, this dichotomy ended up winning at the Primates' meeting, in
Dar-es-Salaam, last week. Their final document simply submits an
important part of the Anglican Communion to a scrutiny that
reminds me of the famous papal edicts of the Middle Ages, against those who
would dare to think differently. The "liberals", as they are commonly
called, have a fixed date to formally apologize for their pastoral

Normally I use this space here for political and everyday analysis.
Rarely I use it for expressing specifically theological opinions.
However, I would have the freedom of expressing, at the beginning of
the liturgical Lenten time, my deep sadness for such a huge step back
in a process I would call the hermeneutical journey of the Church. I
affirm peremptorily here the exclusive personality of my opinion,
detached from any institutional role I represent. It is the opinion
of a theologian who insists on believing that the Gospel is made of
inclusion and caressing of all people.

Instead of being concerned with the issues that really disqualify our
world, such as poverty, war, aggressions to the environment, among so
many urgent ones, they keep spending words and money being concerned
about their peers who have advanced in the comprehension that people
who have a sexual orientation that is different from heterosexuality
are equal beyond God and are also equal in their beloved God's

And this is just because the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church
of Canada have decided to advance with respect to the way with which
homosexuals are treated among their jurisdictions.

An uncertain future is before the Anglican Communion. And it is sad
to realize that the climate of confrontation now comes to
ecclesiastical discipline, which means power and a not very adequate
use of it for maintaining the "neurosis of the discursive correction
of the faith".

As I have commented somewhere else, the communion is broken. The fact
that some conservatives refuse to take part of the Eucharistic table
with their equals is an irreversible symptom that the Anglican
Communion is agonizing.

Unfortunately, some of the primates - fundamentalists and sexists -
have twisted the Church's agenda: from serving the world to a negative
focus on sexuality. The world expects much more from the Church than
value judgments or correct dogmatic formulas. This is part of the Age
of Reason, that has shown to be innocuous as a tool for struggling
with the real dilemmas of humankind!


It is such a great comfort to me to realize that there are some voices in the Global South that are struggling with the "real dilemmas of humankind". I've had the pleasure of getting to know some of my brothers and sisters from this part of our Communion, and I know them to be committed to fighting poverty, homelessness, homophobia, and other social justice issues. There are missions and preaching points in the midst of slums and in the streets, where sometimes the Mass is said and the Gospel is proclaimed amid gunshots and gang fights. One parish is trying to start a music school for poor children in its slum. One is feeding the homeless with sandwiches and the Holy Eucharist. This is kingdom work. These are the needs that demand our energies and attention. Thank you Canon Francisco de Assis Silva for challenging the rest of the communion to not forget about our Great Commission to proclaim the Gospel and to break the yoke of the oppressed.

While I'm thinking about the voices from the Global South, let me recommend a book edited by Bishop Terry Brown, Other Voices, Other Worlds: The Global Church Speaks Out on Homosexuality. This book shatters the myth that there is a homogenious anti-gay voice in the Global South. It tells the truth that gays, Christian gays, live and minister in every part of the world. This book takes a look the debate from the perspective of theologians and clergy from the developping world. You can Find it at any major book seller.

Also, take a look at the blog of Luiz Coelho, who translated Canon Francisco de Assis Silva's blog into English. He writes occassional reflections from a third world, Anglican, progressive perspective. He is currently a seminarian in the Brazilian Church, working with the Church in the Streets in Rio, Christ the King Mission in the City of God slum, and is an active parishioner in his home parish Church of the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. You can read his thoughts

I'll work on a list of other great bloggers from the Global South and publish them here later.

Peace and blessings,
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 6:14 AM


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