The Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná in Brazil is looking at how to transform into a “Blue University.” Brother Rogério Renato Mateucci, rector, confirmed the university’s commitment to become part of the global Blue Community network.
Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus began to teach at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute in 2004 and joined the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 2007. Most recently he served as WCC interim deputy general secretary and Faith and Order director. Below, he reflects on his fondest memories, accomplishments, and hopes.
World Council of Churches acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca shared greetings with the Evangelical Church of the River Plate in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay; as well as the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil. Both churches had gatherings during which they elected leaders and prayed together.
As Brazilian artist Janine Marja Schneider pieces together the “Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance” tapestry, she brings mixed emotions to her endeavors. On one hand, she’s inspired to bring the stories of women from around the world to life on the colorful blocks that cascade downward like liquid. On the other hand, with every stitch, she more deeply absorbs what brings these women together: it’s what they’ve survived.
“In the midst of death and trauma caused by this terrible event, let us bring our intercessions together, praying that the God of Life will comfort the ones who lost their loved ones and give strength to those involved in the actions of solidarity with the victims,” said Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches, as a torrential rainfall took the lives of over 100 people in Petrópolis, Brazil.
Zwinglio Mota Dias used to make jokes about problems with the spelling of his first name in Brazil and elsewhere. In Brazil because of the first half of it. Elsewhere because of the second. Born to a Presbyterian family, his parents wanted to name him as a tribute to the great Swiss reformer of the 16th century, Ulrich Zwingli.
An online event held on 22 July marked the launch of the Ecumenical Water Network Brazil, an initiative that intends to articulate several ecumenical organizations and interfaith voices with the purpose of raising awareness about the life cycle of water.
Areas around the River Pardo in northeastern Brazil are home to more than one million people. Included in them are traditional communities such as the quilombolas (descendants of runaway African slaves), the geraizeiros and others. Each year they see less water in their river. “This is not solely due to the reduction in rainfall.
The Brazilian municipality of Juiz de Fora has approved a cooperation agreement with Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER), a member of the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network (WCC-EWN), thus becoming part of an international working group that wants to contribute to good water management and management practices using a water flow diagram. The project also encompasses the city of Bern, Switzerland; Cape Town, in South Africa, and Rio Pardo de Minas, in Brazil.
The same week Brazil reached half a million deaths by COVID-19, my parents got the first dose of the vaccine. On my way to work, I pass through a vaccination post full of people, and through a cemetery full of grief. The past year and few months were a mix of fear, indignation and anger for me. But also a time where I saw generosity and hope bloom.
In the midst of one of the worst public health crises in the world, Christians in Brazil are upholding their tradition of celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the lead up to Pentecost. For the second year, they will be gathering in prayer without physical gatherings though.
An international online seminar, “Brazilian Tragedy: A Risk to Our Common Home?” brought religious, social and human rights leaders together with prominent experts on 4-6 May to discuss how the process of deconstructing democracy in Brazil in recent years has led the country to multiple crises.
I’m writing this text exactly one year after Brazil declared quarantine, on 16 March. Last year we went into quarantine thinking it would only be two weeks at home, and maybe a few months of wearing masks and sanitizing our hands. I’m the first to confess that I’ve underestimated the virus. However, we all know that is not how it went. Month after month went by - the internet joked about how could it possibly be August already, when last week was March?
Rev. Romi Bencke, general secretary of the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil, believes that being an ecumenical leader means having the courage to ask the most difficult questions even in a polarized society.
As the Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign begins in Brazil, World Council of Churches interim general secretary Rev. Dr Ioan Sauca shared his hope that the campaign will bring a unique opportunity to express concrete solidarity and support to the work of churches engaged in expressing Christian unity.