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Robinson Cavalcanti buried: Anglican Ink, March 12, 2012 March 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anglican Ink.
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Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife, Miriam, were laid to rest last week at the House of Peace Cemetery in Paulista in Northeastern Brazil, following an emotional funeral service at Emmanuel Anglican Church in Orlinda.

Recife’s two suffragan bishops and 50 members of the clergy participated in the service.  Several hundred mourners overflowed the parish church, participants at the 29 Feb 2012 service tell Anglican Ink.

Read the full story at Anglican Ink.

Recife bishop murdered: The Church of England Newspaper, March 2, 2012 p 5. March 8, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Church of England Newspaper.
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Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti of Recife and his wife were murdered in their home in Olinda in Northeastern Brazil on Sunday evening.  The bishop’s adopted son is alleged to have knifed his parents and attempted to take his own life after the attack.

On 26 February 2012, at approximately 10:00 pm the bishop returned to his home in Olinda after having visited a parish earlier in the day.  The bishop’s son is alleged to have pulled a knife on his father and stabbed him. Mirian Cavalcanti, the bishop’s wife, attempted to intercede and was stabbed also.

The bishop’s son, Eduardo Cavalcanti (29) was visiting his parents from the United States.  Sources tell The Church of England Newspaper the young Cavalcanti was facing deportation proceedings in the U.S. due to criminal and drugs charges.  Local accounts report that Eduardo was seen drinking at the beach and playing with a knife – said to be the murder weapon – before the crime took place.

Bishop Cavalcanti died in his home from a stab wound.  His wife was taken to Tercentenary Hospital in Olinda but died en route.  Eduardo Cavalcanti stabbed himself a number of times and ingested what is believed to be a poisonous substance after the crime.  He is in hospital under police guard.

The bishop’s death was a tragedy, the Rev. Gustavo Branco told CEN. The Cavalcantis “had always been known by their gift of hospitality. The Diocese is mourning but we must go on. It was his will. It is God´s will,” he said.

On 20 May 2011, the 68 year old bishop told the 35 annual convention of the Diocese of Recife that he would retire on his 70th birthday in June 2014.  The bishop was deposed in 2005 along with the majority of the clergy of Recife by the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) for contumacy for their refusal to follow the province’s liberal line on gay bishops/blessings.  However, this decision has not been recognized by a majority of the wider Anglican Communion.  The diocese has been under the temporary provincial oversight of the Province of the Southern Cone and has close ties to the Anglican Church of North America.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has long attempted to mediate the dispute between Recife and IEAB. Dr. Williams told a press conference at the close of the 2009 Primates Meeting he had sent emissaries to the two sides and hoped “this would lead to an eventual reconciliation.”

However, Bishop Cavalcanti last year told The Church of England Newspaper this was an unrealistic hope.  Forcing the two into one institutional body would compel “people of two different religions to live formally together,” he said.

Since it broke from the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB) in 2005, the diocese has seen significant growth and “has more than doubled its number of congregations, clergy and members,” a diocesan spokesman noted.  As of the start of 2011, the diocese stated it had 5,102 members in 47 congregations with 61 ordained clergy, and a “presence in 9 Brazilian states” – and is roughly half the size of the IEAB.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Curate’s Egg – Political Language in Religion Reporting: Get Religion, February 28, 2012 February 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Get Religion, Press criticism.
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Bishop: “I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr Jones.”

Curate: “Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!”

“True Humility” by George du Maurier, from Punch, (1895).

Reporting on the Anglican Communion and its religious wars is a tricky business. The path of least resistance for most reporters is to secularize the fight, splitting the combatants into liberals and conservatives and placing the dispute within the context of America’s culture wars.

Now this is not wrong, merely incomplete. There are partisan political considerations at work in the fight within the Episcopal Church — one faithful gauge of the theological temperature of an Episcopal congregation are the bumper stickers found on the cars in the parking lot on Sunday mornings. In 2008 Obama or McCain stickers were good indications of the political and theological sentiments of the parish.

The Episcopal Church’s statistical office has reported — for years — that in the aggregate the lay people (the folks in the pews) are evenly divided between self-identified liberals and conservatives. But congregations are for the most part monochrome. This lack of diversity at the roots is also represented in the bureaucracy at the national and diocesan church offices. They are a mirror to their masters.

So on one level, the left/right split is a useful shorthand for reporters when covering the Episcopal Church. And when you go to the sources for information in an Episcopal or Anglican story you will likely speak to someone on a particular side.

But when things move to a deeper level this language doesn’t fairly describe reality. There are political liberals who are theological conservatives and political conservatives are theological liberals. Nor is the language of politics useful when describing Anglicans outside of North America. A news story found on the Washington Post‘s website taken from ENI and the Religion News Service is a good example of the disconnect between language and reality — and impartiality of sources.

The lede sentence to the story “Breakaway bishop who denounced gay bishop found murdered in Brazil” states:

A conservative Brazilian bishop who broke away from his church over the consecration of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire was found murdered with his wife in the northeastern town of Olinda, according to the diocese.

Like the curate’s egg, this is good, but in parts. The facts as stated are true. Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife Miriam were murdered. But what about the adjectives?

(As an aside, I should say I have known Bishop Cavalcanti for about 14 years and considered him a friend. I last saw him over the summer when I was reporting on a bishops’ meeting held in California and we pleasantly passed the time together in conversation between plenary sessions of the conference.)

Let’s look at the word “conservative”. Yes, it is fair to say that Bishop Cavalcanti was a theological conservative. To be precise he was a conservative Anglican evangelical of the English variety whose faith was formed and founded upon Scripture.

But he was also a socialist. Before he entered the ordained ministry he was a professor of political science and rector of a university. He also stood for election as a deputy to Brazil’s parliament under the banner of the Workers Party (PT – Partido dos Trabalhadores). Elected bishop of the Diocese of Recife in 1977, Bishop Cavalcanti remained active in secular politics serving as the Pernambuco State coordinator for the 1989 presidential election campaign of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (President Lula finally achieved electoral success and served as the 35th President of Brazil from 2003 to 2010.)

The bishop was also the author of the 1985 book Cristianismo & Política, which saw in the Gospels a warrant for the political transformation of Brazilian life — from the left. Speaking at the 1990 meeting of the Latin American Theological Fraternity, Bishop Cavalcanti stated that while it was true that “Communism had failed in the East,” it was also true that “capitalism had been a permanent failure for two thirds of the World.”

So is Bishop Cavalcanti a conservative? He told me last summer that he believed Scripture to be “trustworthy and true” and should guide the church’s teachings on human sexuality. So, on the gay issue, I guess he was.

On social and economic issues he was not. He was a man of the left. And here the reporter is faced with the issue of deciding which descriptor to use. It is equally true to say the “liberal Brazilian bishop” as the “conservative Brazilian bishop.” Perhaps the second half of the sentence should guide us: “who broke away from his church over the consecration of an openly gay bishop.”

The problem there is that it is half true. Yes, Bishop Cavalcanti opposed the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. But Bishop Cavalcanti did not break away from the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil. He was kicked out. This fact is hinted at in the WaPo article which notes he was “defrocked on the grounds that he broke communion with the official Anglican church in Brazil.”

The story arc for the rest of the bishop’s career is equally dubious and is informed only by reports from the press office of the Episcopal Church in New York. However, the issue I wish to raise is the use of political terms to identify religious questions.

I do it all the time — classifying people and positions as liberal and conservative in the context of the various church scenes. But I am not happy about it. I have seen attempts to introduce other language to classify religio-political points of view but they are not as mellifluous as I would like — and one spends more time explaining words that are to be used as shorthand than the actual positions under consideration.

Nor do I like reducing everything in church debates to the gay issue. Bishop Cavalcanti is my exemplar on this point. Should his views on human sexuality take precedence over his scholarly work and his social-economic teachings? Both were founded upon a reading of Scripture.

How then, GetReligion readers would you resolve this issue. More adjectives? A new vocabulary? Less descriptors and more quotes to allow individuals to self-identify? What say you?

First printed at GetReligion.

Cavalcanti funeral set for Wednesday: Anglican Ink, February 28, 2012 February 28, 2012

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Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti

The Diocese of Recife reports that the memorial service for Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife Miriam has been scheduled for 29 February 2012 at Emmanuel Anglican Church in Olinda in Pernambuco state.  The internment will follow immediately afterwards at the House of Peace Cemetery in Paulista.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Robinson Cavalcanti murdered: Anglican Ink, February 27, 2012 February 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anglican Ink, Crime.
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Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti preaching in the U.S.

The Diocese of Recife reports that Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife were murdered in their home in Olinda in Northeastern Brazil last night.  The bishop’s adopted son is alleged to have knifed his parents following a quarrel.

On 26 February 2012, at approximately 10:00 pm the bishop returned to his home in Olinda after having visited a parish earlier in the day.  The bishop’s son is alleged to have pulled a knife on his father and stabbed him.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.