Bishop Carlos Duarte
Saint Charles of Brazil (Bishop Carlos Duarte-Costa, 1888-1961) was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest on April 1, 1911. He was consecrated to be the Roman Catholic Diocesan Bishop of Botucatu, Brazil, on December 8, 1924, and served in that office until certain views he expressed about treatment of Brazil’s poor, by both the civil government and the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil, caused his removal from the Diocese of Botucatu. Bishop Duarte-Costa was subsequently named Titular Bishop of Maura by the late Bishop of Rome, Pius PP XII.
Bishop Duarte-Costa’s criticisms of the fascist regime and oligarchy of Brazil in the 1930’s and 1940’s earned him repeated troubles and prison. In 1944 he was imprisoned by the dictator and remained there until pressure from President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill and others caused his release. Of interest is the apparent lack of active protest against this unjust imprisonment by either the Vatican or the other bishops of Brazil.
Bishop Duarte-Costa’s criticisms of the Vatican, particularly about Vatican foreign policy during and following World War II toward Nazi Germany, were not well received at the Vatican, and he was eventually separated from the Roman Church by Pius PP XII. This action was taken only after his public denunciations that the Vatican Secretariat of State was issuing Vatican Passports to some high ranking former Nazi officials, who were then fleeing to South America, from the Allies.
Bishop Duarte-Costa was a strong advocate in the 1930’s for reform of the Roman Church; espousing many of the key positions that the Second Vatican Council would, thirty-five years later, enact. His positions included a more pastoral approach to divorce, challenged mandatory celibacy for the clergy, and rejected abuses of papal power, including the concept of Papal Infallibility, which the Bishop considered a misguided and false dogma.
Bishop Duarte-Costa was involuntarily separated from the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church on July 6, 1945. This schism was, it should be noted, an act by the Roman Pontiff and was not initiated by Bishop Duarte-Costa. Duarte-Costa immediately established the independent Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasileira (ICAB) on that same date which he led until his death in 1961.
After its founding, ICAB attracted inquiries from other Catholic communities who, while wishing to retain the Catholic faith, felt that the governance of the Roman Catholic Church had failed to address the modern world and was not meeting their needs. Bishop Duarte-Costa worked to establish groups in various countries. According to the ancient practice of the early Church, and still in practice today by Eastern Orthodox communions, such Catholic Apostolic Churches exist in their countries as autonomous and independent Particular Churches. In addition to ICAB in Brazil, there are sister apostolic branches in several other countries in the Western Hemisphere, Europe, the Pacific and in Asia. While bound by common origin from Bishop Duarte-Costa’s apostolic line, each National Catholic Apostolic Church is completely independent and self governing. Each revealing a unique national identity or charism.
The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA) has been, since its founding, and remains today, such an independent National Catholic Apostolic Church in the United States and Canada. CACINA is honored to share this heritage with this family of Christians. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ whom we love and honor as children of a common Father in heaven and father on earth: St. Charles of Brazil.
From such a history one could reasonably believe that there was/is great animosity toward the Roman Catholic Church felt by both Bishop Duarte-Costa and his spiritual children. Nothing could be further from the truth. The events recorded here are history. They happened and they caused much suffering. Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic Church, ancient of days, is one of the foundation stones of the Christian Faith. To hold animosity toward her, her leaders, or her people would be to hold such feelings for Christ, for we are all one in Him.
The Bishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope) occupies a unique position in the Christian world. He can be a voice for peace among peoples, a teacher, a defender of the right and promoter of justice, and a leader. It is to this role that Christ called St. Peter. He did not call Peter to be a monarch, or a head of state, but, like Jesus Himself, to be a servant. That the Church of Rome contributed to the persecution of St. Charles, and later ICAB, is reprehensible and, yet cannot be forever a source of discord.
As with all our Christian brothers and sisters, CACINA, holds the Bishop of Rome, currently Franciscus, and all the People of God of the Roman Catholic Church in deep fraternal affection and respect. In this we obey our Master who taught us, “By this shall all people know you are my disciples, when you love one another as I have loved you…”