Brazilian Catholic Church Offers Wholehearted Support for Upcoming WCC Assembly

May 16, 2003 12:09 PM EDT

The Brazilian Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC). But it has pledged its full support for the WCC's upcoming ninth assembly, slated to take place in Porto Alegre in February 2006.

The pledge was made by Dom Sinésio Bohn, the Catholic bishop of the diocese of Santa Cruz do Sul, at a meeting with WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser. Raiser is currently in Brazil visiting the city where the assembly will be held, and met with Bohn and representatives of WCC member churches.

Bohn was formerly responsible for ecumenism in the Brazilian Bishops' Conference (CNBB) and represented it at the meeting. The Conference is a member of the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC), the body that invited the WCC to hold its ninth assembly in the country.

At the meeting, Raiser said that one of the main reasons for choosing Brazil was the excellent ecumenical relations in the country.

The meeting took place at the Anglican Episcopalian Church headquarters. Participants included Anglican bishop and host, Orlando Santos de Oliveira, Pastor Walter Altmann, president of the Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession of Brazil, and Bishop Luis Vergílio Batista da Rosa, of the Methodist Church in Brazil.

The CONIC coordinator in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Anglican Bishop Naudau Alves Gomez, and CONIC executive secretary, Pastor Ervino Schmidt also participated in the meeting. The Brazilians once again expressed their satisfaction that the upcoming assembly will be held in their country.

Accompanied by local church leaders, Raiser visited the events centre at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul where the assembly will be held. The visitors were impressed with the facility; Raiser said he thought the choice of site was the best that could have been made.

The WCC general secretary also met with the governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Germano Rigotto. Raiser explained the role of the WCC and the significance of an assembly of this magnitude; the governor offered the state's logistical collaboration.

Raiser also met with members of the Catholic, Methodist, Anglican and Lutheran communities in the city at an event held in the IECLB Church of the Reconciliation, located in downtown Porto Alegre. He explained how the ecumenical body works, the issues that will be debated, and key concerns for the WCC.

During the course of his visit to Porto Alegre, Raiser made several references to the work carried out by the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI). The effort it has made to include Pentecostals in ecumenical dialogue is one of the factors responsible for the unique nature of ecumenism in Latin America, Raiser said. He also praised the work of CONIC in the search for the common testimony of Christian churches in Brazil.

The WCC assembly, held every seven years, brings together around 3,500 participants, including delegates from member churches, speakers, observers, guests, visitors and journalists. Gathering Christians from all over the world and from virtually every Christian tradition, its assemblies are major events in the life of the Council.

In Brazil, WCC members include the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession, the Christian Reformed Church of Brazil, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, the Methodist Church in Brazil and the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil.