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Brazil's military archbishop distances himself from Lenten campaign over gender ideology

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Poster for the Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign for Lent 2021. Credit: National Conference of Bishops of Brazil.

Brasilia, Brazil, Feb 17, 2021 / 15:52 pm (CNA).

The head of Brazil’s military ordinariate has told the nation’s bishops’ conference he will not use material from this year’s ecumenical Lenten campaign because it contains gender ideology concepts.

“The evangelization of the faithful at any time, but especially in a special time such as Catholic Lent, is not a place for dialogue on themes that are polemical and contrary to the authentic doctrine of our Church,” Archbishop Fernando Jose Monteiro Guimarães of the Military Ordinariate of Brazil wrote Feb. 8.

“Interreligious dialogue is necessary and opportune when, respecting various expressions of faith, it is carried out in the competent sees,” Archbishop Guimarães added in his letter to Archbishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo of Belo Horizonte, president of the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil.

The military archbishop stressed that “it is the responsibility of the diocesan bishops, as authentic teachers and guardians of the deposit of faith, to guarantee the orthodoxy of the faith that is preached to the faithful in their diocese.”

“This mission, the object of solemn oath on the part of each one of us before our episcopal ordination, commits my conscience as bishop and I will never be able to renounce it.”

“For this reason, I inform you that in the Military Archdiocese of Brazil, during Lent this year, we will follow the theological-liturgical guidelines proper to the Lenten season and will not use any of the materials officially produced for this year’s Fraternity Campaign,” Archbishop Guimarães stated.

He added that “our military chaplains are being given guidelines, in case they wish to address the Fraternity Campaign, to use only Pope Francis’ Fratelli tutti.”

“Also the percentage of the collection allocated to this episcopal conference – and distributed to other entities promoting the campaign – will not be sent and, of course, really and effectively, it will be used to help the poor, through the social work recognized by the Military Ordinary. Regarding this use, it will be my responsibility to present the accounts respectively to the presidency” Archbishop Guimarães concluded.

The Fraternity Campaign is a prominent Catholic fundraiser celebrated in Brazil during Lent; every five years it is carried out in conjunction with mainline ecclesial communities.

This year’s campaign is entitled “Fraternity and dialogue: commitment of love”, and the motto is a phrase from the Letter from Paul to the Ephesians: “Christ is our peace: he who made one of both peoples.”

Controversy over this year’s campaign arose because the material for parish meditations during Lent includes a text that says: “another social group that suffers the consequences of systemic politics and violence and the creation of enemies is the LGBTQ+ population.”

It provides information on alleged violence against gay people sourced from the “Grupo Gay da Bahía,” a homosexual lobby group, and claims that “193 LGBTQ+ were murdered in 2017.”
“These homicides are the effects of hate speech, religious fundamentalism, voices against the recognition of the rights of LGBTQ+ populations and other persecuted and vulnerable groups,” the text says.

The presidency of the Brazilian bishops’ conference issued a statement Feb. 9 explaining that the materials for the Fraternity Campaign were prepared by the National Council of Christian Churches, and “therefore, it is not a text in the style of what would happen if it were prepared by the CNBB commission, since we have two different theological understandings, although around the same ideal of serving Jesus Christ.”

The bishops’ statement referenced numbers 67 and 68 of the Fraternity Campaign text and quoted the 2003 Pontifical Council for the Family’s “Lexicon on ambiguous and debatable terms regarding family life and ethical questions” that gender “must obey the natural order already predisposed by the body.”

The Brazilian bishops state that the money will not be spent in projects that are inconsistent with Catholic teachings.

“From the beginning of the 2021 Fraternity Campaign, we have informed the NCC about the difficulty and even the impossibility of working together in the structure of the Fraternity Campaign, unlike previous ecumenical campaigns. On this point, based on the last campaigns, that of 2016, this presidency (of the CNBB) has already expressed the difficulties and, in a spirit of communion and co-responsibility, will discuss the matter in a future meeting and the conclusion will be reported immediately,” concludes the bishops’ statement.


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