Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez

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His Holiness, His Beatitude
Luis Fernando Castillo Méndez
First President of Worldwide Communion of Catholic Apostolic Churches, second Patriarch of Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church and first Patriarch and Founder of Venezuelan Catholic Apostolic Church
Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez.jpg
Church Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church (1961-2009)
(previous) Venezuelan Catholic Apostolic Church (1948-1961)
Archdiocese Brasilia
Province Distrito Federal
Installed 26 March 1961
Term ended 29 October 2009
Predecessor Carlos Duarte Costa
Ordination 10 August 1944
by Valentín Comellas y Santamaria
Consecration 3 May 1948
by Carlos Duarte Costa
Rank Patriarch-Primate
Personal details
Born 4 December 1922
Caracas, Venezuela
Died 29 October 2009 (aged 86)
Brasilia, Brazil
Nationality Venezuelan (1922-1961)
Brazilian (1961-2009)
Denomination Brazilian Catholic Apostolic, excommunicated Roman Catholic
Previous post
Coat of arms Luis Fernando Castillo Méndez's coat of arms
Styles of
Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez
External Ornaments of Primates and Patriarchs (Interwoven with gold).svg
Religious style Archbishop-Patriarch
Posthumous style The Honorable and Reverend
Ordination history of
Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez
Priestly ordination
Ordained by Valentín Comellas y Santamaria
Date of ordination 10 August 1944
Place of ordination Solsona, Spain
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecrator Carlos Duarte Costa
Co-consecrators Salomão Barbosa Ferraz
Jose Vargas Antidio
Date of consecration 3 May 1948
Place of consecration Balboa, Panama
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez as principal consecrator
Forest Ernest Barber 30 January 1985
Bertil Persson 14 June 1987
Claude R. Baron 1988
Justo Roque González 1989
José Villegas 1989
Charles-Rafaël Payeur 1990
Neville David Anderson 15 July 2005
James Atkinson-Wake 13 June 2004

Luis Fernando Castillo Méndez (December 4, 1922 - October 29, 2009) was a Venezuelan Independent Roman Catholic priest and the 1st Patriarch of the Igrejas Catolicas Apostolicas Nacionales (ICAN) an Independent group of National Catholic and Apostolic Churches. Second Patriarch of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church and it's 48 dioceses, and is the mother church of the Worldwide Communion of Catholic Apostolic National Churches (WCCAC) a loose communion of churches in 14 countries.

He had been a Roman Catholic priest from August 10, 1944 until March 8, 1947, when Castillo Méndez left the Roman Catholic Church and the archdiocese of Caracas to become the founder of the independent Venezuelan Catholic Apostolic Church (ICAV - Iglesia Católica Apostólica Venezolana). Castillo Méndez was subsequently excommunicated by the Holy See. On May 3, 1948 he was consecrated a bishop and Patriarch for the Venezuelan Catholic Apostolic Church by the bishop Carlos Duarte Costa (excommunicated former Roman Catholic bishop of Botucatu, Brazil), assisted by his auxiliary bishop Salomão Barbosa Ferraz, in the Panama Canal Zone. Castillo Méndez later succeeded Duarte Costa and became the President of the Episcopal Council of ICAB on 1982. He died on October 29, 2009. He was the first and last Patriarch of ICAN.


Early life and ministry[edit]

Luis Fernando Castillo Méndez was born in Caracas, Venezuela on December 4, 1922 and baptized on December 22 in the Parish of Saint John the Baptist. His parents were Castillo Lopéz and Carmen Méndez and had five siblings: Ramón, Domingo, Cecilia, José de Jesús and Antonio Obdulio. After studying in the Roman Catholic archdiocesan seminary in Caracas, he left with a bachelor's degree and traveled with his class of seminarians to Solsona, Catalonia, in Spain, and on August 10, 1944, Bishop Valentín Comellas y Santamaría ordained him to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Santa Maria.

Upon returning to Venezuela, at a time of massive upheaval in the country, Castillo Méndez became involved in a movement called the Curas Criollos ("Native Priests" or literally "Creole Priests"). Having learned through periodicals about the church reform movement led by the left-wing government critic and Vatican critic Dom Carlos Duarte Costa (former Roman Catholic bishop of Botucatu) in Brazil and the founder of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church (separated from the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church) in 1945, Castillo Méndez entered into correspondence with Duarte Costa.

Separation from the Roman Catholic Church[edit]

Castillo Mendez in 1948 as a Monsignor

In 1947 Castillo Méndez and three other clergy formally established the "Venezuelan Catholic Apostolic Church". Like the Brazilian Catholic church led by its first Bishop, Dom Carlos Duarte Costa, the Venezuelan church was to be independent of the Vatican, would use Spanish instead of Latin in the liturgy, and would permit its clergy to marry. Castillo Méndez filed the new church's organizational papers with the Interior Ministry in early 1947, with signed affidavits from 250 fellow priests who had unanimously elected him Bishop of Caracas. The Minister of Interior immediately ordered the federal police to ensure that Castillo Méndez did not wear the vestments or insignia of the office of a bishop.[1] However, the new church did receive public approval from the Democratic Action and Communist parties.[2]

On March 8, 1947 Castillo Méndez and the other three founders of the Venezuelan independent church were formally excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic archbishop, Lucas Guillermo Castillo, stated in the excommunication directive that the four priests had "violated fundamental dogma of the Roman Catholic Church and held concepts blasphemous, as well as several which are offensive to the person and authority of the Roman Pope Pius XII." The notice further stated that any Catholics who supported this new church would also be excommunicated.[1]

Entry into the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church[edit]

Ordination of Castillo Mendez as Bishop of Caracas

In 1947 Castillo Méndez was serving as pastor of St. Teresa's parish in Caracas.[3] Having been elected leader by his fellow priests in the nascent national church, he sought to go to Brazil to receive episcopal consecration from Duarte Costa. However, the Venezuelan government did not consent to this trip, nor would it allow Duarte Costa to enter Venezuela. In the end, Castillo Méndez and Carlos Duarte Costa made arrangements to meet in the Panama Canal Zone, a territory under the jurisdiction of the United States, which did not have formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican at that time. On May 3, 1948, Costa consecrated Castillo Méndez as a bishop, with the title of Bishop of Caracas and Primate of Venezuela. Costa was assisted by Dom Salamao Ferraz, Bishop of São Paulo, as co-consecrator.

Castillo Méndez's consecration led to his official persecution by the Roman Catholic Cardinal in Venezuela and was tortured with hot irons by the Venezuelan government to deny that he was a Catholic bishop.[4] He fled to Brazil on June 21, 1950, where he was installed by Patriarch Duarte Costa as parish vicar and diocesan bishop of Uberlandia in the state of Minas Gerais. In 1957 he was moved to Rio de Janeiro where he served as auxiliary bishop. He was reassigned to Brasília in 1960[3] where he served as diocesan bishop of the state of Goias.[3] It is worth noting that the erection of the Diocese of Brasília predated that of the Roman Catholic archdiocese by five years, as a result of which the Roman Catholic hierarchy were forced to recognize, and never able to challenge, the title of Bishop of Brasília.[5] In 1961 he acquired Brazilian citizenship.


Castillo Mendez with Carlos Duarte Costa during the Episcopal Congregation in Panama

Upon Bishop Duarte Costa's death in 1961, leadership of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church was apparently in a flux for several years, with several individuals leading or claiming to lead the church, often for very brief periods of time.[6] Some sources indicate that Castillo Méndez was leader of the church as early as 1961. Clearly by 1982 he was undisputed leader, elected that year as president of the Episcopal Council of ICAB. In 1988 he was officially designated as the Patriarch of ICAB", and in 1990 he was given the title of "Patriarch of ICAN", which then became the WCCAC, the church's international communion, a position which he held until his death in 2009. A few days shortly after receiving the title of Patriarch, he created the Catholic Church of England & Wales in 2004 and consecrated Diocesan Bishop James Atkinson-Wake as Primate of the Catholic Church of England & Wales while he remained as Patriarch of the Church until his death creating the Church as Sui Juris.

Castillo Mendez with Eduardo Aguirre Oestmann, Bishop-Primate of ICERGUA

Castillo Mendez used the Tridentine Pontifical in the vernacular for all episcopal consecrations. However, like the Eastern Orthodox Church and many other Christian churches, he denied papal infallibility and did not support obligatory priestly celibacy. In the 1980s, he entered into private dialogue with the Apostolic Nuncio during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II at the Pope's request to see if reunification was possible; unfortunately, the Episcopal Council of ICAB refused the idea, remembering the various ongoing acts of malice and even torture committed by the Roman Church against the Brazilian Church.[citation needed] Castillo Mendez was also given a Papal blessing by Pope John Paul II.[4] In the words of His Holiness Patriarch Dom Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez in 1961 and 2005 ; “Well, we are not of this new religion. We do not accept this new religion. We are of the religion of all time; we are of the Catholic religion. We are not of this 'universal religion' as they call it today-this is not the Catholic religion any more. We are not of this Liberal, Modernist religion which has its own worship, its own priests, its own faith, its own catechisms, its own Bible, the 'ecumenical Bible -these things we do not accept."

Personal life[edit]

Despite the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church allows priests and the clergy to marry, Castillo Méndez was celibate. He was noted to recite the rosary several times every day; a practice that was abolished by the Church under Duarte Costa.[7] Castillo Méndez resided in the Archbishop's Residence in Brasilia, where he would remain due to his illness until his death.[4] Castillo Méndez wore the Church's gray cassock with red piping but after his designation as, Patriarch of ICAB", he began wearing an off-white cassock and zucchetto.


On the morning of October 29, 2009 in the Archbishop's Residence, Castillo Mendez suffered a severe heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital and lost consciousness; he was declared dead at approximately 9:00 am, at the age of 86, in Brasilia, Brazil.[8] He was the last living bishop consecrated by Carlos Duarte Costa. His Funeral Mass took place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Brasilia, where his body was laid to rest; attending were the Presiding Bishop of ICAB Josivaldo Perreira de Oliveira and bishops of the Episcopal Council and a large gathering of clergy and families.

Note on his name[edit]

As a native of Venezuela, Castillo Méndez's family name (patronym) is "Castillo", with "Méndez" being his mother's family name. In Spanish-speaking countries, people normally have two surnames. One is inherited from the father, the other from the mother. The father's surname is written before the mother's surname and, when addressing a person formally, one usually uses the father's surname (e.g. "Señor Castillo"). (See article Spanish naming customs)

However, as an immigrant to Brazil, where the custom is to place the father's surname in the final position, Castillo Méndez was normally addressed as "Méndez", even though this is technically his mother's surname.

Another Brazilian custom is to address bishops and high-ranking church officials with the honorific title of "Dom" followed by the individual's first name. Thus Castillo Méndez was often addressed as "Dom Luis".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Venezuelan Schism Hit: Archbishop Declares Excommunication of 4 Priests in Move", The New York Times, March 9, 1947, p. 5
  2. ^ Donis, Manuel. "Yépez Castillo: un historiador didáctico", El Ucabista, December 1998, p. 36 Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b c " on CCEW website
  4. ^ a b c "Catholic Church of England and Wales". 
  5. ^ "Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez" in Encyclopedia Tiosam
  6. ^ Peter F. Anson, Bishops At Large, London: Faber & Faber, 1964, pp.534-535 and Addenda
  8. ^ "The Brighton Oratory". Archived from the original on 2014-06-06. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Carlos Duarte Costa
Patriarch of Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church
1961 - 2009
Succeeded by
Josivaldo Perreira de Oliveira
Preceded by
Position created
Patriarch of Venezuelan Catholic Apostolic Church
1945 - 1961
Succeeded by
Guillermo Antonio Pacheco Bornacelli
Preceded by
Position created
President of Worldwide Communion of Catholic Apostolic Churches
1964 – 2009
Succeeded by
Josivaldo Pereira
Preceded by
Position created
Archbishop of Brasilia
Succeeded by
Bartolomeu Sebastiao Vilela