By Gabriel de Arruda Castro
From the altar, priest Aldo Quintão tries to convince the faithful that the Bible needs to be updated: “There are passages in the Bible where the man goes there, he can have sex with all his maids.”
“The woman has to put up with it, keep quiet, and stay with him. David, who wrote the Psalms, they say he had a thousand.”
He is corrected by another priest, who attends the celebration. The priest apologizes. It is Solomon, not David.
But the primary error does not seem to embarrass Quintão, who continues trying to demonstrate that homosexuality is not incompatible with the Bible, despite the passages that forbid the practice.
“We have to reread it. Bring it to the present day,” he adds.
A less attentive listener would have difficulty understanding whether the priest means that both (homosexual relations and polygamy) are proper or both are wrong.
In a few minutes, the faithful will form a line for communion. One of them is wearing shorts and a Nirvana T-shirt.
While the priest serves the bread and wine, a couple of tuned singers sing “Trem Bala” by Ana Vilela.
It is that song that repeats an Anglicism a dozen times (“It’s not about”/”It’s about” in the sense of “What doesn’t matter/What matters”).
The song makes no mention of God or the Bible. The final piece of the religious celebration is Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me,” in which the lyrical self speaks of going on a honeymoon with his beloved.
It is Feb. 12, 2023. Just another Sunday at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral.
Father Quintão’s eccentricity has become commonplace in the Anglican Church, which has undergone a marked process of politicization (to the left) since the mid-20th century.
It is difficult to separate cause from consequence, but the fact is that the Church has also lost most of its faithful since then.
Between 1983 and 2011, the number of Englishmen who identified as Anglicans went from 40% to 20%. The decline has become more pronounced in the last decade.
The Church of William Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, and Winston Churchill – and England’s monarchs – is unrecognizable.
The latest blow to tradition was the acceptance of homosexual couples.
On Feb. 9, the Church approved a proposal allowing same-sex unions to be celebrated – although it avoided calling the blessing a marriage, which would contradict one of the Church’s 39 entire articles.
Modifying those articles would involve a longer and more painful process.
In the 1970s, the Church began ordaining women as priests. Now it is debated whether to use neutral language to refer to God instead of the masculine pronouns employed by the Bible.
It is difficult to know when Anglican theology became so liberal. It is a fact that in the late 19th century, Darwinism came to have a significant influence on British society (Charles Darwin was himself a member of the Church before he lost his faith).
Other scholars attribute the decline to the deep trauma of the Second World War, which took a heavy toll on the British despite the Allied victory.
The two processes (liberalization and loss of believers) show no signs of abating.
GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN
But some are still fighting to restore the Anglican faith to its historical position. One of the most visible advocates is Calvin Robinson, a conservative political scientist ordained an Anglican deacon in 2020 when he was over 30.
Robinson has already been interviewed by figures such as Tucker Carlson, a leading viewer on the Fox News channel, and recently participated in a debate at Oxford University.
After graduating from an Anglican seminary in Oxford, he applied to take over a parish in the London area but was rejected for his conservative stance.
So he joined the Free Church of England, a kind of dissent that follows Anglican principles but does not answer to the church hierarchy, whose prominent leader is the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Anglican Church came into being in 1534 when King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church and “nationalized” the temples in England after being denied the right to divorce to remarry.
Still, the institution had always adopted orthodox stances on theology and biblical morality (and even divorce).
But then came the 20th century.
To the Gazeta do Povo, Robinson says that the disfigurement of the Anglican Church became visible in 1958 when the Anglican Church accepted the use of contraceptive methods.
The situation was made worse, he says, with the ordination of women.
“This was a departure from the Bible and resulted in many liberals infiltrating the Church as it tried to achieve a 50-50 ratio in terms of male and female priests,” he explains.
In his opinion, the Church must return to its tradition to stop shrinking. “If the Church of England wants to stop losing members, it must return to the doctrine A church without authority is a church without discipline,” he says.
Robinson is convinced that the Anglican Church should not try to adapt to the culture of the moment: “Christ’s Church is countercultural because Christ was counter-cultural. He told us to be in the world but not of the world. ”
Although it was born in England and carries that heritage in its very name, the Anglican Church today is more international than ever.
In 1900, 82 percent of Anglicans were in the United Kingdom. As early as 2005, Africa had become most of the Church’s members.
Only 33% of them were British. And not all bishops around the globe are satisfied with the liberal stance of the “English Vatican” based in Canterbury.
This month, leaders from countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Chile, and Bangladesh came out publicly to reject the approval of same-sex unions and are threatening to break with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Reverend Justin Welby.
Like the Church in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, the Anglican Episcopal Church in Brazil has adopted the more progressive side of the dispute.
The liberalism of the Church had already caused a schism in the last decade.
SECESSION IN BRAZIL
Brazilian Anglicans had their schism in 2005. Some bishops left the Church linked to Canterbury for not agreeing with the flexibilization of the doctrine in the field of sexuality – among other things.
Today, they are part of the Anglican Church in Brazil (without the “Episcopal” in the name), which adopts a firm stance against abortion and gender ideology.
In an interview with Gazeta do Povo, Bishop Márcio Simões, responsible for the Curitiba region, said that the issue of homosexuality is just the “top of the iceberg”.
He explains, “The issue is theological liberalism and biblical revisionism as one of its children.”
While he admits it would be easier to create a new denomination that was not Anglican, he says, “it makes no sense for the majority to leave and let a minority deny the Holy Scriptures.”
Simoes, who recently baptized a group of refugees from Islamic countries, says his denomination has grown chiefly among young people while the more liberal branches of Anglicanism decline.
“Communion is unlikely to return to what it once was. The breakdown of communion is inevitable due to theological liberalism, especially in the United States, Canada, England, and Brazil,” he analyzes.
Father Aldo Quintão doesn’t seem worried about the global crisis of the Anglican Church. Vain displays photos and videos with famous people like Silvio Santos, actress Paloma Duarte, and singer Paulo Ricardo on the Anglican Cathedral of São Paulo’s website.
For having a more flexible attitude towards divorced people (and, more recently, homosexuals), the Brazilian Anglicans have always been sought out by famous people looking to get married for the second (or third) time.
Among them was Pelé, who married Assíria Nascimento in an Anglican temple.
In the UK, despite being aware that the prognosis for the Anglicans is not the best, Robinson is not thinking of joining the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, or any other Protestant church.
Because he is English. “Anglicanism is the English expression of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. I love my Orthodox and Catholic brethren, but I don’t see the need to move away from the tradition I was born into.”
WHAT IS ANGLICANISM?
Anglicanism is a denomination within Christianity that originated in England during the 16th century.
It is also known as the Episcopal Church in some countries. The Anglican Communion comprises churches in different countries with the same historical roots and beliefs.
The origins of Anglicanism can be traced back to the English Reformation, which began in the 16th century when King Henry VIII of England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church.
The Church of England was established as a separate entity with the monarch as the head of the church instead of the pope.
Anglicanism is characterized by diverse beliefs and practices ranging from high church (more traditional and ceremonial) to low church (more informal and evangelical). Anglican worship generally includes the Book of Common Prayer, a collection of liturgies and prayers used in churches.
Anglicans believe in the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), the authority of the Bible, the importance of sacraments (especially baptism and the Eucharist), and the historic creeds of the Christian faith (such as the Nicene Creed).
Today, Anglicanism is a global denomination with members in many countries worldwide. The Anglican Communion includes over 85 million members in 165 countries.
With information from Gazeta do Povo