Diocese in Brazil engages in theology to understand human rights and the environment

19 May 2014

The Anglican family in Fortaleza, Brazil, in the Diocese of Recife, are developing a project called ‘Disciples of Peace and Citizenship Theology’.

Through Bible studies and liturgies the project aims to strengthen the faith and commitment of church members and enable them to be key actors in the social realm.

They have learnt that the Christian faith can be involved in politics – we need to “work together for the common good”.

Lay Minister Wescley Ronis said, “Our traditional reading of what it is to be a disciple no longer responds to the current questions we have in our contexts.

“It is important to nurture new members of our church in their learning but there is more.  It is now a fundamental requirement to encourage Christians to be effective witnesses of the Gospel in a world marked by greed, violence and exclusion. A public and prophetic theology is once again required from our faith.” 

The community has a focus on eco-theology, human rights and social campaigning, and recognises that only people who are steadfast in their responses can change the face of the world.  

They are striving to not be “conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can know what God’s will is – what is good and pleasing and mature.” (Romans 12:2).

Their journey has been influenced by ‘mystagogy’.  Mystagogy is the fourth stage of the ‘Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults’, and comes from the Greek words meaning “to lead through the mysteries.”

Traditionally mystagogy takes place throughout the Easter season, until the feast of Pentecost. It is a period of accompaniment for new Christians as they discover what it means to fully participate in the mission of God and the mysteries of the sacraments of the Church.

By addressing what is happening in the context of the community the project intends to face violence against women, religious intolerance, biblical fundamentalism/literalism and help to shape Christians based on models found in the Gospels.  These include the stories of the good Samaritan, the persistent widow looking for justice, Zacchaeus, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Magdala, Cleophas and his wife Mary, and the centurion soldier looking after his servant.

Participants in the project have become involved not only because it has a religious face, but due to the prevalent need for transformation that society and the world are longing for.  People of faith and faith-based organisations are equipped to point towards this transformation. 

The community are particularly keen to engage in their local contexts – not to belong to the world but still to live in it.  They see this as the best way to collaborate with the Kingdom of God and to see God’s will be done.