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SALVADOR, Brazil (ChurchMilitant.com) - Faithful Catholics are dismayed after a Brazilian archbishop celebrated an LGBT Mass cheered by gay activists.
Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, primate of Brazil and archbishop of Salvador, celebrated a Mass May 21 in memory of alleged victims of anti-LGBTQ violence in the South American republic. The official archdiocesan YouTube channel broadcast the Mass live from Holy Family Church in Salvador, one of the biggest cities in Brazil. It prompted praise from advocates of abortion and the LGBTQ agenda but consternation from traditional Catholics.
According to the Bahia state government, da Rocha "accepted the request of the Center for the Promotion and Defense of LGBT Rights of Bahia (CPDD-LGBT)" to celebrate a Mass "in memory of men and women victims of transphobia."
The Mass featured male cross-dressing entertainer Edson Junior — stage name Scarleth Sangalo — who wore extravagant makeup and a full-length white dress. He sang the Hail Mary to a popular Brazilian tune. Junior is a spokesman for CPDD-LGBT and has spoken about his lifestyle on Brazilian TV talk shows. Also on hand were apparent representatives of the non-Christian Umbanda and Candomblé cults.
Juan Carlos Monedero, a Catholic professor of philosophy in Argentina, told Church Militant that da Rocha is a "collaborationist of the transgender agenda" and "compromised nothing less than his authority as successor to the Apostles."
A frequent critic of Pope Francis, Monedero wrote: "The unspoken message to the rest of his parishioners and subordinates is clear: If the primate can do it, so can the parish priests. ... The goal is clear: to naturalize homosexual behaviors and move the public to compassion and to the detriment of critical judgment."
He assessed the situation as a "stab in the back for millions of Catholics who, both in Brazil and in all the world, have been fighting for years against gender ideology ... In Brazil is the effect; in Rome is the cause. Catholic militants, that's where you should look: at the pope."
Cardinal da Rocha preached at last month's Mass, saying, "The Church is called to be a merciful mother; it suffers with the violence perpetrated against the people. ... Violence against the LGBTI+ population is a sad sign of a society that lives with constant violations against life, of dignity, of the rights of so many victims of brutal death."
He then deplored all forms of violence, adding that his countrymen "should not get used to so many violent deaths, as if they were normal or inevitable."
Da Rocha added in his homily, "We are invited to relive the experience of the first disciples," who "are recognized for living the commandment of love."
The cardinal claimed:
Data released this month on violent LGBTQI+ deaths in 2020 indicated that the Northeast sadly ranks first in the number of deaths in the country, followed by the Midwest. And that the most violent capitals were Salvador and São Paulo … We have a lot to do to transform this sad reality and build a culture of brotherhood and peace, of respect for the life and dignity of each person, especially those living in situations of social exclusion.
The data were provided by the Gay Group of Bahia, led by Luiz Mott, who was present at the Mass. The data have been questioned by some who accuse Mott's group of including "cases of deaths by accident, heart attacks, stray bullets, firefights with the police, disputes between transvestite prostitutes, deaths that occurred in other countries and even murders of heterosexuals committed by homosexuals as if they were 'crimes motivated by homophobia in Brazil,'" according to conservative blog Fratres in Unum.
Mott, however, believes that the "most plausible" explanation for the drop in LGBTQ murders over three years is the "persistent homophobic speech" by Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro, which has supposedly led the "LGBT segment to be more cautious, avoiding situations of risk of being the next victim, exactly as it happened during the AIDS epidemic and the adoption of safe sex by part of that same population."
According to Crux, Cris Serra of Brazil's National Network for LGBT Catholics (RNGC-LGBT) was pleased that da Rocha used the term LGBTI+ rather than "homosexual." Serra told Crux that he had thus "refused to condone the erasure of the people that we are."
RNGC offers courses in so-called "queer theology," "plural theology," "Black theology," and "feminist theology," some of which are taught by non-Catholics. Serra is also active in Brazil's Catholic Women for Choice, which promotes contraception and abortion. She is the author of a book that sets out a strategy for "creating a new Church."
Interviewed by Portuguese-language Catholic website ACI Digital, da Rocha claimed the Mass was "not in honor of the deceased but for the suffrage of souls." Fr. Lázaro Muniz, an event organizer, denied any political motivations. According to Crux, Muniz said da Rocha accepted the request for the Mass "because the idea was to pray for the deceased, people who were killed due to LGBTphobia."
Alvaro Mendes Jr., a member of the traditionalist Dom Bosco Center, commented in a video that the Mass comes as Christians are facing murder and persecution worldwide.
Mendes noted the Mass took place on the same day that priests in Germany were blessing homosexual unions and giving Communion to homosexuals. At the Mass in Salvador, professed homosexuals also received Communion.
However, this is not the first time in recent days that Church teachings and canon law have been defied in Brazil. In May, for example, Fr. Jorge Luiz Neves concelebrated a funeral Mass for comedian Paulo Gustavo, a publicly professed homosexual who was in a "marriage" with Dr. Thales Bretas, with whom he shared custody of two boys. Father Neves gave the Eucharist to Dr. Bretas during the nationally televised Mass that took place at the feet of Rio de Janeiro's massive iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer.
The well-known Fr. Neves told ACI Digital in May that denying the Eucharist would have caused greater scandal and that he had no way to know whether Dr. Bretas had received the sacrament of reconciliation before partaking in the Eucharist.
Dr. Bretas eulogized Gustavo during the Mass, saying, "We had so many plans for so many years, I think it is beyond our incarnation," in an apparent reference to a belief in the reincarnation of souls, which is roundly condemned by the Catholic faith.
The video of da Rocha's LGBTQ Mass showed several persons wearing the white clothing typical of believers of Brazil's syncretic cults. The esoteric Afro-Brazilian cults, such as Umbanda and Candomblé, accept homosexual behavior and practice several forms of magic, incantations and worship of spirits. While the cults are rooted in the experience of Brazil's African slaves, who were freed in the 1880s, they have steadily grown in acceptance and influence among Brazilians with no claim to African ancestry, especially within the LGBT community.
Umbanda and Candomblé, much like the related Santería or Lucumi of Cuba and Voodoo of Haiti, were once suppressed by national governments that feared they challenged civil authority, especially during slave times. Their practitioners — merging beliefs and practices of native Americans, enslaved Africans and Catholic Europeans — venerated the images of Catholic saints that had been invested with the identity of West African gods and goddesses known as orixas. For example, images of Jesus Christ stood in for Oxalá; the Virgin Mary stood for Iemanjá; and St. John the Baptist stood for Xangô.
Adherents of Umbanda Branca practice what they call "white magic" and wear white clothing, especially during rituals where they claim to be inhabited by the spirits of the orixas. However, members of the Candomblé cult also wear white during rituals of animal sacrifice and the spilling of blood on their altars. While all such cults and rituals were once known as Macumba, since the early 20th century there has been a multiplication of such rites, which have no central authority. Some practitioners believe they can inflict harm on others with Macumba.
According to paragraph 1385 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
To receive Holy Communion one must be fully incorporated into the Catholic Church and be in the state of grace, that is, not conscious of being in mortal sin. Anyone who is conscious of having committed a grave sin must first receive the sacrament of reconciliation before going to Communion. Also important for those receiving Holy Communion are a spirit of recollection and prayer, observance of the fast prescribed by the Church, and an appropriate disposition of the body (gestures and dress) as a sign of respect for Christ.
Paragraph 1013 of the Catechism says:
Death is the end of man's earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny. When "the single course of our earthly life" is completed, we shall not return to other earthly lives: "It is appointed for men to die once." There is no "reincarnation" after death.
As for combining Christianity with voodoo, Pope Benedict XVI blasted the practice during a 2011 visit to Benin, voodoo's homeland in West Africa. Speaking in Ouidah, where thousands of enslaved Africans once embarked to the Americas, the pope proclaimed:
The love for the God who reveals Himself and for His word, the love for the sacraments and the Church, are an efficacious antidote against a syncretism which deceives. This love favors the correct integration of the authentic values of cultures into the Christian faith ... liberates from occultism and vanquishes evil spirits, for it is moved by the power of the Holy Spirit.