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Memorial of the Vocation
of
Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa


 1888 - 1967

 The Evangelical Catholic Church celebrates the Vocation of Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa, the patriarch of the Independent or Autocephalous Catholic Movement, on July 2nd, the anniversary of his excommunication by the Church of Rome. 

We celebrate not the sadness of that event, but rather we celebrate Costa's fidelity to his vocation as priest and bishop as he continued to dedicate his life in service to the sacramental and pastoral care of the People of God. 

The apostolic linage of the Evangelical Catholic Church is rooted in Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa.  We are humbled to be able to witness Costa's vocational, spiritual, and sacramental fidelity and commitment. 

 

Overview of the Life of Bishop Costa 

Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa was consecrated as the Roman Catholic Diocesan Bishop of Botucatu, Brazil, on December 8, 1924, until certain views he expressed about treatment of the 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 Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, formerly Vatican Secretary of State until 1939, under Pope Pius XI). Bishop Duarte Costa had been a strong advocate in the 1930's for reform of the Roman Church; he challenged many of the key issues that the Second Vatican Council would later thirty-five years take action upon. 

Bishop Duarte Costa's criticisms of the Holy See, particularly about Vatican foreign policy during World War II toward Nazi Germany, were not well received at the Vatican, and he was eventually separated from the Roman Church by Pope Pius XII. This action was taken only after Duarte Costa's strong and repeated public denunciations over the fact that the Vatican Secretariat of State was engaged in the issuance of Vatican Passports to some very high ranking German ex-Nazis, a practice referred to as the "Ratline."  

These former Nazi officials were among some of the most notorious of war criminals, such as, the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Commandant Adolf Eichmann and the infamous, Dr. Josef Mengele, the "Angel of Death," both of whom traveled after the War on officially issued Vatican Passports. Such criminals were in flight from trial to South America in 1945.  

The Brazilian Government came under the criticism of Bishop Duarte Costa for collaboration with the Roman Church over these passports. Bishop Duarte Costa espoused more pastoral church positions on divorce, challenged mandatory celibacy for the clergy, and publicly stated his concerns regarding abuses of church power.   

Political Pressure and Forced Resignation 

President Getulio Vargas, infuriated with Dom Carlos Duarte Costa, for his having convinced a battalion of soldiers from the Constitutional Troops to join him in his struggle against the corruption of the government, President Vargas asked the Holy See for the removal of Dom Carlos Duarte Costa from the Diocese of Botucatu.

The Vatican could not do it directly, so the Apostolic Nuncio in Brazil entered into an agreement with the Secretary of the Diocese of Botucatu to obtain the resignation of Dom Carlos Duarte Costa, as Diocesan Bishop of Botucatu. The secretary, in the daily documents and reports that Dom Carlos Duarte Costa always had to sign, placed the resignation letter within a series of documents, which Dom Carlos Duarte Costa signed as a result of the deception.  

The Diocesan of Botucatu informed the Holy See that Dom Carlos Duarte Costa had signed the document mistakenly without reading it. This happened in the beginning of 1937. The Holy See renounced claims that it was a forgery, based on the secretary of the Diocese, and the resignation was accepted by Pope Pious XI on October 6, 1937. After the acceptance of the resignation, Dom Carlos was appointed Titular Bishop of Maura, an extinct Diocese.  

Excommunication 

On June 06, 1944, Dom Carlos Duarte Costa, by the order of the government, facilitated by the Apostolic Nuncio joining the Brazilian fascists, was imprisoned and led to Belo Horizonte - MG, where he was accused of being a communist sympathizer, and remained imprisoned until 06  September 1944, when the order against the Brazilian Association of the Press was lifted, the government of Mexico and the United Nations, intervened together to the Brazilian Government through its intermediaries of their embassies in favor of Dom Carlos Duarte Costa. 

Several warnings had been given to Dom Carlos Duarte Costa, from the Roman Apostolic administration. But the more he was warned, more he defended the Christian faith, the laborers, the existing native land against the fascists and Nazis in the Church and its hierarchy. Without any hope of the submission of Dom Carlos Duarte Costa, the Vatican, enraged, laid against Dom Carlos Duarte Costa, Bishop of Maura, the penalty of excommunication on July 02, 1945.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2011

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