CONVERT THE CITY OF THE REDEEMER
'Monday - a prayer for the economic growth' - encourages the World Church of Divine Power. Invasion of sects is one of the problems, which Rio de Janeiro faces.
Nearly 200 thousand people are going through the city and singing religious songs. Many of them dressed in red - the symbol of martyrdom. The procession of St. Sebastian, the patron of Rio de Janeiro, takes place every year. Seeing the crowd in prayer, one can think that Catholicism is going well here. In fact the city, being the host of the World Youth Day, is a difficult evangelization area.
The Church in abundance
'Stop suffering' - the inscription encourages above the entrance to the temple of the Universal Church of the Divine Kingdom. Situated in a poor district of Rio de Janeiro, called Campo Grande, the building is equally big as the Polish parish church. 'Monday - a prayer for the economic growth. Wednesday - a prayer for spiritual growth' is a slogan of the World Church of Divine Power in Tijuce, two steps away from the diocesan seminary.
In whole Brazil the Church of Divine Power can have a few hundred believers. The Universal Church - nearly 2 million believers. According to the official statistics, over 40 million Brazilians belong to one of the tens of evangelical communities. In the recent 20 years, the number of sects has drastically increased, whereas the percent of the Catholics has decreased from about 80 percent to nearly over 60 percent.
In Sao Paolo a parish priest can have 17 churches on the area of his parish, each one of a different sect. In poor parts of Rio de Janeiro, such as Campo Grande, there are more of them. Here, literally, on every third or fourth house there is a sign of a religious community. Inside there is ascetic interior design - chairs and sound system and paintings presenting the Holy Spirit. Generally, the symbol of the cross is not used, and nothing is said about the image of Our Lady. Pastors often wear clerical collars. Prayer meetings are very emotional. During singing believers are dancing. The pastor of the group 'Living water', whose building neighbours with the church of St. John, can ecstatically preach his sermons for a few dozen minutes. He is heard all over the street, because loudspeakers are outside.
Pastors can also be watched in the generally accessible television. For nearly the whole day meetings with miracle - doers are being transmitted. In a hall a few hundred people and a pastor are praying and later those who felt healed are called out.
The common thing for evangelical sects is the fact that they are looking for their new believers. Missionaries with the Bible in their hands go from home to home. And just this might have influenced their success.
In front of the church a metal tray was placed, in which lighted candles had been put. This is a sacrifice for the dead, a pagan custom originating from the African Land. In Rio de Janeiro it is not easy to find a Catholic church, in front of which it would not be placed. The remains of the sacrifices to the homage of African demons can be found on the square on Campo Grande or in the forest of Tijuce - the same in which there is a statue of Christ the Redeemer on a hill.
The existence of Afro-Brazilian cults is, certainly, the result of slavery. The Africans, after their arrival in Brazil, were compulsorily baptized, therefore expressing the native religions was a form of their opposition to owners. After some time, the tribal religions were mixing with Christianity. Particular deities were associated with Jesus and the saints. In effect it happens so, that under the name of Mary or St. George, in fact, worship is expressed to a pagan deity. The statues of toothed creatures are in parish kiosks and during one of May holidays, processions with these sculptures enter churches. Witches in their spells call out the name of God. A percentage of people declaring to be believers of Afro-Brazilian cults is very small - in the country of 200 million population there are nearly 600 thousand such people. However, it is difficult to estimate the number of those who go to church on Sunday, and on Monday they perform witchcraft, not seeing any contradiction in it. Political correctness makes the fight with demonic rituals difficult. As they origin from Africa, the criticism of them is usually perceived as a sign of racism.
Homo-lobby with the support of the state
The European appearance of two boys walking on Copacabana attracts the attention of a man giving away leaflets.
- Are you looking for a restaurant? And maybe…? - he is taking out averts. Like the ones which can be found in Warsaw behind wipers of the car. The image of the Bible in one of the boy's hand discourages him.
It is not a secret that many tourists come to Rio de Janeiro not only to sunbathe. Also, it is not accidental that during the famous carnival the AIDS morbidity reaches the frightening size. Whereas the custom novelty are free relationships of 15-year-olds, formed with the consent of parents - they live in one room, and their son or daughter in another room with their partners. Another novelty are homosexual marriages. It has been possible to contract them for a few years in some states, in whole Brazil, since May this year. In Rio de Janeiro the action of the fight with homophobia was organized by a governor of the state.
Witnesses are needed
- Padre barbudo, sim - an inhabitant of swarthy complexion is smiling widely. As an evangelist, she does not visit her parish and does not even know that 'a priest with beard' ('barbudo' is 'a bearded man' in Portugal language) is called Lucas Cesar Navarin. However, she knows him, like everyone in the area. Because 'padre barbudo' in the company of a vicar, goes from home to home every week, like evangelists. And rather - like the first Christians.
When the bishop of Rio de Janeiro Orani Joao Tempesta encourages the youth for ceremonies, there are crowds of teenagers. Many of them, during the World Youth Day, are working as volunteers or are hosting pilgrims at their homes. Evangelists are doing the same. Also the diocesan Radio Cathedral is very popular and churches full of believers every week. The future of the city of the Redeemer does not have to be perceived in black colours. Although there have been big changes, it is certain that neither the great testimony of hundred thousands of the participants of the World Youth Day nor the everyday little performing work which is done by the 'padro barbudo' will be wasted.