Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church

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Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira (Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church)
Classification Catholic
Polity Episcopal
Region Brazil
Founder Carlos Duarte Costa
Origin 1945
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Separated from Roman Catholic Church
Members 500.582 (2000)[1]

The Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church (Portuguese: Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira, pronounced: [iˈgɾeʒɐ kɐˈtɔɫikɐː puʃˈtɔɫikɐ bɾɐziˈlejɾɐ]; ICAB) is an independent Catholic church established in 1945 by Brazilian bishop Dom Carlos Duarte Costa, who was at the time the Roman Catholic Bishop of the titular See of Maura.

ICAB has 39 dioceses and has sister Churches in many countries.[2] Its past head was Patriarch Dom Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez, Worldwide Council of Catholic Apostolic Churches (WCCAC), a loose communion of churches in 14 countries. The present President of the Episcopal Council in Brazil is Dom Josivaldo Pereira de Oliveira.

Beliefs and organization[edit]

The ICAB accepts the Nicene, Athanasian, and Apostles' creeds and observes seven sacraments (baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, penance, unction, matrimony and ordination).[3] ICAB practices open communion for all Christians who acknowledge the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The church acknowledges divorce as a reality of life and permitted in Holy Scripture and will marry divorced persons after the Ecclesiastical Process of Investigation and baptize the children of divorced or single parents. The church also does not recognize the use of rosaries or confession.[4]

ICAB teaches that birth control is acceptable in certain circumstances (such as for disease prevention). It opposes abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and any other taking of human life.[4] The church has three administrative branches, in line with the conception of a nation state: executive (Episcopal Council), legislative (National Council), and judicial (Superior Ecclesiastical Court).[5] There are currently 52 bishops and 39 dioceses within Brazil.[4]


Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa was an outspoken critic of the regime of Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas (1930–1945) and of the Vatican's alleged relationship with fascist regimes.[6] He also publicly criticized the doctrine of papal infallibility and Roman Catholic views on divorce and clerical celibacy. He was a champion for the poor which was his main work during his life. Largely as a result of his outspoken views, he was moved from his post as Bishop of Botucatu in 1937 and was redesignated as the Titular Bishop of Maura (an extinct diocese of North Africa). Duarte Costa continued to criticize the government and the Roman Catholic Church, advocating policies that were regarded by the authorities as Communist. In 1944 the Brazilian government imprisoned him, but later freed him under political pressure from the United States and Great Britain.[6]

In May 1945 Duarte Costa gave newspaper interviews accusing Brazil's Papal nuncio of Nazi-Fascist spying, and accused Rome of having aided and abetted Hitler. In addition, he announced plans to set up his own Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church, in which priests would be permitted to marry (and hold regular jobs in the lay world), and bishops would be elected by popular vote.

In response to Duarte Costa, the Holy See laid against him penalty from a diocesan bishop to a titular bishop and accepted his resignation from the Diocese of Botucatu in 1937. Several years later, he formed the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church (ICAB). He then declared in 1945: "The Brazilian Catholic Church which is a religious society, established for the propagation of the Christianity in all the national territory, which is separated from the Roman Apostolic Church because of the errors that it has been committing since the moment when it left the catacombs, exchanging the beauty of the teachings of Christ — simplicity, humility, poverty, love of neighbor — for a preeminently mercantilistic institution, where pomp reigns, doing damage to true Christianity, which is found in the humble, the laborers, the legitimate representatives of Jesus of Nazareth."[3]

In 1949 the Brazilian government temporarily suppressed all public worship by ICAB, maintaining that the similarity of its liturgy and vestments to those of the Roman Catholic Church would result in confusion and were tantamount to deception of the public.[7] However, a few months later the churches were permitted to reopen, provided that their liturgy would not duplicate the Roman Catholic liturgy, and their clergy would wear gray clerical attire in contrast to the black clothing worn by Roman Catholic clergy.

Duarte Costas set about to implement a number of reforms in ICAB of what he saw as problems in the Roman Catholic Church. Clerical celibacy was abolished, though he himself never married and remained celibate. Rules for the reconciliation of divorced and remarried persons were implemented. The liturgy was translated into the vernacular, clergy were expected to live and work among the people, and support themselves and their ministries, by holding secular employment.[8]

Dom Luis Fernando Castillo Méndez, Patriarch of ICAB 1964-2009

Shortly after founding the church Dom Carlos Duarte Costa consecrated two more bishops, Salomão Barbosa Ferraz (August 15, 1945), and the Venezuelan Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez (May 3, 1948) Dom Salamao Ferraz acted as co-consecrator for Dom Castillo Mendez. These three bishops went on to establish similar autonomous National Catholic Apostolic Churches in several other Latin American countries. Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa personally served as consecrator or co-consecrator of 11 additional bishops, each of whom took a leadership role in either the Brazilian Church or one of the other National Churches.[9]

In 1958 Bishop Ferraz left ICAB to rejoin the Roman Catholic Church in which his episcopal consecration was accepted as valid by Pope John XXIII. Shortly thereafter, in 1961, Dom Carlos Duarte Costa died and ICAB underwent several years of tumult as dissensions, schisms, and multiple claimants to the patriarchal throne threw the church into disarray. After this short period, the church found stability and growth under the Venezuelan Dom Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez, Dom Carlos Duarte Costa's successor.

Some sources[who?] indicate that Dom Luis Fernando Castillo Méndez assumed leadership of ICAB upon Duarte Costa's death in 1961, but Peter Anson wrote in his book Bishops At Large that this was incorrect.[10] In 1982 Castillo Méndez was elected president of the Episcopal Council, and was designated Patriarch of ICAB in 1988 and Patriarch of ICAN (the international communion) in 1990.[11] Patriarch Mendez was in private talks with the late Pope John Paul II in returning the Brazilian Church back to Rome. However the Council of Bishops had voted against rejoining the Roman Catholic Church. The bishops claimed that much suffering and torture had been inflicted largely at the urging of the Roman Catholic Church. Dom Luis served as Patriarch until his death. As of 2013 the head of the church was Dom Josivaldo Pereira, the head of the Episcopal Council.[citation needed]

Apostolic succession[edit]

The ICAB holds that apostolic succession is maintained through the consecration of its bishops in an unbroken succession back to the Apostles. All ICAB bishops trace their line of succession back to Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa, who was consecrated by the Roman Catholic Church. Every consecration strictly follows the Tridentine rite in the vernacular Pontifical.

The ICAB cites the case of Salomão Barbosa Ferraz as evidence that its apostolic succession is valid, even by Roman Catholic standards. Just over a month after the church's foundation, on August 15, 1945, Bishop Duarte Costa presided as the principal celebrant at the episcopal consecration of Salomão Barbosa Ferraz. Thirteen years later (in 1958 under Pope John XXIII) Ferraz reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church and was fully recognized as a bishop, even though he was married at the time.[9] Ferraz was not ordained or consecrated again, even conditionally; however he was not appointed to a diocese immediately. He did pastoral work in the Archdiocese of São Paulo until May 12, 1963, when he was appointed titular bishop of Eleutherna by Pope John XXIII.[12] He attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI appointed him to serve on one of Vatican II's working commissions. Upon his death in 1969, Bishop Ferraz was buried with full honors accorded a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.

After Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa's resignation to Pope Pius XII was accepted in 1937 and he was appointed as Titular Bishop of Maurensi, his principal consecrator and friend, Cardinal Silveria Leme do Cintra, issued a letter and permission to the then Titular Bishop of Maurensi to assist in a consecration of Roman Catholic bishop Eliseo Coreoli in 1940. Some three years later he resigned to the Roman See which then relinguished control to then Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa.

International communion[edit]

Bishops Costa, Ferraz, and Méndez consecrated or assisted in the consecrations of dozens of bishops in various countries from the 1940s to the 1990s. Some bishops in the Costa line maintained formal ties with the Brazilian church, but the majority appear to have gone their separate ways to found or participate in independent Catholic bodies without ties to Brazil. Such bishops have been declared as doubtful at best by the new regime, citing the claim that a defect in proper intention exists in all bishops who have strayed from ICAB. Churches in full communion with ICAB are members of the Worldwide Communion of Catholic Apostolic National Churches (WCCAC). There has been a fluctuating number of partner churches in the WCCAC communion and a current list of official WCCAC members is not available. The last world conference was held in 2009 in Guatemala. Since that meeting there has been a reorganization in the works of the Communion of Catholic and Apostolic Churches of those who have remained true to the teachings of San Carlos Duarte Costa. Those churches who have obtained consecrations at the hands of Dom Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez or Dom Jovivaldo Pereira, with false intentions, as in lies and simony, are considered to be in grave sin and are not considered validly consecrated or ordained.[citation needed] Dom Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez created the Canadian Catholic Apostolic Church in 1988 and ordained to the episcopate Claude R. Baron as the first Canadian bishop.


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