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Conflicting Court Rulings Muddy Recife Controversy
The Living Church Foundation ^ | 9/20/2005

Posted on 09/21/2005 5:45:33 PM PDT by sionnsar

Two Brazilian courts have recently handed down conflicting rulings in the case of the Diocese of Recife. One court found the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB) violated civil and canon law, while a second ruled that the Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti, Bishop of Recife, and his supporters were no longer Anglicans.

The split has been swept up in the Church’s ecclesiological crisis, creating a new flashpoint for the Anglican Communion with the leaders of the Global South backing Bishop Cavalcanti over the Primate of Brazil, the Most Rev. Orlando de Oliveira.

The conflicting decisions concerned control of the annual meeting of the diocesan synod. In November 2004, Archbishop Oliveira attempted to prorogue Recife’s convention, fearful the diocese might pass legislation seceding from the IEAB.

The diocese ignored his demand, arguing the primate had no such canonical authority, and met Dec. 2-4, registering the record of convocation with a civil notary in conformance with Brazilian corporation law.

On June 17, Archbishop Oliveira and a committee of the IEAB’s House of Bishops deposed Bishop Cavalcanti for contumacy and directed his suffragan, the Rt. Rev. Filadelfo Oliveira Neto, to assume the ecclesiastical authority for the diocese.

Bishop Cavalcanti appealed his deposition and Recife’s standing committee rejected the decision, backing its bishop. On Aug 23. Bishop Oliveira deposed without trial the standing committee and 32 of Recife’s clergy, who minister to 90 percent of the diocese’s communicants, for abandoning the communion of the IEAB and for pledging their fealty to Bishop Cavalcanti.

Bishop Oliveira called a new meeting of the diocesan synod for Sept. 9-10, arguing the December gathering had been illegal.

Pernambuco State Civil Court Judge Cátia Luciene Laranjeira de Sá on Sept. 7 prorogued Bishop Oliveira’s synod, finding that even though he was acting under instructions from the Primate of Brazil, he had no authority to void acts of a legally convened and recorded synod or the power to convene synod.

Bishop Oliveira ignored the court decision, and in his diocesan address on Sept. 10 condemned the “false orthodoxy” and “false spirituality” manifested by his opponents as “arrogance and judgementalism.”

On Sept. 12, a second court lifted the suspension of the second synod, accepting the Brazilian Church’s argument that Bishop Cavalcanti and his clergy were no longer Anglicans. It held that “all decisions, canonical reforms and ordinations that took place over the weekend are confirmed.”

Bishop Oliveira told The Living Church “it is clear to the Church and to the Courts that Robinson is no longer an Anglican bishop” and has lost “all priestly prerogatives.”

Bishop Cavalcanti rejected this argument, telling TLC the conflicting court orders would be appealed to the “State Upper Court.” He noted, “all these facts are part of the strategy of the province to create with their tiny group a ‘diocese’ and to expel the orthodox majority.”

Citing the Recife controversy, Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, rebuffed the IEAB’s request to participate in the third South to South meeting of Anglicans scheduled for Oct. 24-29 in Egypt. Bishop Cavalcanti will be seated at the gathering of leaders from 24 Anglican provinces instead. The Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, has accepted an invitation to attend.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 09/21/2005 5:45:34 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: sionnsar

Recife seems to be one of those linchpin places in the world.

2 posted on 09/21/2005 5:47:16 PM PDT by bvw
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