The Bishop of South Western Brazil visited Montreal in June to formally conclude an eight-year companion relationship between the two dioceses but that won’t spell an end to the friendships.
“We’ll be companions forever,” Bishop Jubal Pereira Neves said, during a visit to Church House in Toronto with his wife Eleci. The cathedrals in Montreal and Santa Maria have been companions for five years and plan to continue their relationship. People from both dioceses have visited back and forth and those exchanges will continue.
Bishop Neves talked of how the Anglican Church is expanding into new territories in Brazil, including the Amazon and the centre west area of the country. That expansion is being led by Anglicans migrating from other parts of the country. “They are very happy because now the church is with them,” he said.
About 70 per cent of Brazil’s 170 million inhabitants are Roman Catholic. Anglicans, at a count of about 130,000 are a tiny, though growing minority.
“The church is growing in Brazil,” Bishop Neves said. “We don’t believe in growing just in numbers. You also need growth in maturity and in commitment.” Since he became bishop in 1993, about 20 new communities of Anglicans have sprung up, which represents a nice, balanced growth, he said, rather than an explosion.
The country’s churches have a healthy ecumenical relationship. In fact, Bishop Neves is the new chairman of an ecumenical group that includes Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and United Presbyterians. The group works on behalf of children, oppressed women and Indians.
One sign of ecumenical co-operation was the recent consecration of a new suffragan bishop in Santa Maria. At the invitation of the Roman Catholic bishop, the new bishop was consecrated in front of 1,000 people at the much larger Catholic cathedral. The Anglican cathedral seats only 150.