The Brazilian Connection

Dom Carlos Duarte Costa

In 1910 Canon Manuel Carlos de Amorim Correira was sent by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil to Itapira. Itapira was populated by the indigenous peoples of Brazil who spoke the Tupi language. Canon Correira was instructed to eliminate the popular religious practices of the people in Itapira. The indigenous people of Itapira and the surrounding region practiced a form of 'nature religion' mixed with the Christianity brought to Brazil by the Jesuits. When Canon Correira had spent some time among the people, he realized that many aspects of the people's practices helped them become closer to God and reasoned some of the practices could be incorporated in the Liturgy of the Church. Instead of eliminating the practices he defended the popular religious practices against the insistence of the Roman heirarchy. Canon Correira was excommunicated.

The Roman Church's reaction to Canon Correira is interesting in view of their veneration of the 'Blessed Virgin Mary', her eternal virginity and assumption into heaven. These Roman teachings are founded in apocryphal writings of the fourth century and the popular nature religion practices of the people of the Greco-Roman times.

On January 30, 1912, Canon Correira founded the Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasileira (ICAB). Since he was not a Bishop, he could not validly ordain priests and from this the church could not grow. In 1936, he caught a cold and was poisoned by a pharmicist. The pharmicist confessed insisting he was offered free schooling for his daughters.

In 1928, Father Salomao Ferraz, an Anglican pastor, who had founded the Order of St. Andrew with backing from others who wanted a Catholic Church without ties to Rome. In 1933, Father Ferraz joined ICAB, and in 1936, after the death of Canon Correira, Father Ferraz began the Igreja Catolica Livre de Brazil. He began looking for a Bishop to provide valid Apostolic Succession through consecration to the Episcopate.

On December 8, 1924, Dom Carlos Duarte Costa had been consecrated to be Bishop of Botucatu in Rio de Janeiro by Cardinal Sebastian Lemme de Silveira Cintra. During the 1930s Dom Carlos became deeply involved in the social and political changes under President Getulio Vargas, who was demonstratively anti-cleric and supportive of the aristocratic land owners that were aligned with the Roman Church heirarchy. Dom Carlos had deep theological and ethical difficulty with the Social Doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). The RCC supported the rich and powerful through the doctrine that it was best to accept the inequality of men, as defined in the encyclical Quad Apostolici Numeris by Leo XIII of 1878. The RCC called on all working men to graciously accept the place assigned them by Divine Providence, as defined in the encyclical Quadragesimo Anno by Pius XI of 1931. Dom Carlos concluded the RCC institutionized under Constantine had sided completely with the powerful and walked hand in hand with the ruling classes.

On February 11, 1929, the Vatican signed the Treaty of Latran with the fascist government of Mussolini creating the sovereign State of the Vatican. This treaty gave Mussolini legitimacy and allowed him access to the Church heirarchy for help with his regime. The Roman Catholic Church helped the fascist regime with espionage in other countries. The New York Times reported in January 26, 1984 that the majority of fascist war criminals from Italy and Spain used Vatican passports to escape to South Ameria.

Dom Carlos refused to follow the political policy of the Vatican and was resultantly deposed from his diocese in 1937. He was named the titular Bishop of Maura, which was tantamount to being the bishop of nowhere. Dom Carlos also continued to have problems with President Vargas' dictatorship by increased involvement in the constitutional movement. On July 6, 1944, Dom Carlos was arrested by President Vargas' forces at the urging of the Vatican and the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro. He was accused of being a communist. The Brazilian Associated Press, the United States, Great Britain and Mexico petitioned for Dom Carlos' release which was obtained two months later.

The Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro suspended Dom Carlos in April 1945 and excommunicated him on July 6, 1945. This early history of Dom Carlos and ICAB is part of the well known history of Liberation Theology in South America. You can see some interesting related stories in the movies: The Mission and Romero.

The ICAB of Father Correira was re-established and now it had a Bishop to ordain priests and cause the Church to grow. On August 15, 1945, Dom Carlos consecrated Dom Ferraz and announced plans to ordain ten professional men to the priesthood. These men were married. He published the Manifesto to the Nation which documented his position and the reasons for founding ICAB, on the 18th of August.

Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa fell asleep in the Lord on March 26, 1967, after over forty-two years of service to the people as their bishop. He is honored by the Brazilian Church and her daughter churches around the world as “Saint Carlos of Brazil”.

This was the beginning.

Photo of Saint Carlos of Brazil

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