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World Forum on Liberation Theology takes place between 12 and 16 march in Salvador (Bahia)

Between 12 and 16 March, Salvador (Bahia) received the World Forum on Liberation Theology.  Held at the Convent of the Mercedarian Sisters in Rio Vermelho, the event brought together different expressions of faith from different parts of the world: Brazil, Chile, Canada, the United States, Mexico, India,  Belgium, Spain and Kenya.

A spiritual moment, whose central axis was water (and its different meanings, based on each expression of faith), began the meeting.  According to CESE’s Executive Director, Sônia Mota, the choice of this element was linked to the Alternative World Water Forum, which took place between 17 and 22 March in Brasilia (Federal District).  The moment was celebrated by representatives from Christianity (Friar Henrique Pelegrino from the Trinidade Church and Pastor Joel from the Baptist Church of Brazil and CESE Vice-President); Islam (Sheik Ahmad, from the Islamic Centre of Bahia); and Candomblé (Mother Viana from Ilê Axé Kale Bokun).

Some context about the advance of religious fundamentalism in Brazil and the challenge to “theology in leading to communion, faith, hope between men and creation”, featured in reflections from Romi Márcia Bencke, General Secretary of the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (Conselho Nacional de Igrejas Cristãs do Brasil: CONIC).  The following were invited to provide a regional overview: Sônia Mota (United Presbyterian Church of Brazil – Igreja Presbiteriana Unida do Brasil: IPU), Ana Gualberto (Koinonia) and Bianca Daebs (Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil – Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil: IEAB).

After presenting Salvador and its social disparities, Ana Gualberto presented a portrait of racial inequality and religious intolerance in Bahia which principally affects peoples of African origin.  “Religious intolerance kills in Brazil.  In this state alone, the cases of religious intolerance have grown by 300% over the last year; 80% of complaints come from peoples of African origin.  These data confirm racism,” asserted Gualberto.

In the field of gender, the under representation of women in politics was addressed by Bianca Daebs, who provided the following data in her explanation: of the 63 people who occupy posts as State Deputies, only eight are women; of the 43 City Councillors, eight are women (and only one is black). “This tells us who is considering the laws in this city”, she noted.

Daebs also discussed violence against women.  In the first half of 2017 alone, the Secretary of Public Security in Bahia registered 23 thousand cases of violence against women, 23 cases of femicide and 150 of murder.

The World Forum on Liberation Theology ended on 16 March.

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