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Brazilian President to speak with João Lourenço about the situation of the UCKG

The Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, will call his Angolan counterpart, João Lourenço, to address the situation of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD) missionaries in the country, deputy Cezinha de Madureira told Lusa.

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The information was transmitted on Monday to the deputy by the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Carlos França, in a meeting called by Cezinha de Madureira himself, leader of the Evangelical Parliamentary Front in the House of Representatives.

"Minister França told us that just today [Monday] he had already spoken with Bolsonaro, to make a call to the President of Angola. Bolsonaro, if he hasn't already done so, will make that call personally to the President of Angola, asking for attention about the members and workers, pastors and missionaries of the UCKG in that country," indicated the parliamentarian.

In addition to the minister, the meeting was attended by nearly 20 deputies, from the UCKG and other churches, who sought clarification from the government about the recent deportation of Brazilian missionaries from Angola.

"At the meeting, the minister listened to all of us and said that, from the moment he took over the Ministry [he took office in early April], he immediately spoke with Congressman Marcos Pereira [president of the Republicans, a party linked to the UCKG] about this issue and said he has great confidence in his team that is in Angola, stressing that relations between the countries are, and will remain, good and [will become] even better," said Cezinha.

However, the leader of the evangelical bench stressed that there are specific cases that are being dealt with legally and that the Brazilian Foreign Ministry "cannot manifest itself on issues that are not diplomatic.

According to the deputy, the Brazilian minister also communicated that he authorized an official mission that will travel to Angola to "closely monitor the situation, in a committee that will be formed by members of the Ministry itself, together with Deputy Marcos Pereira, whose political godfather is Edir Macedo, founder of the UCKG".

To Lusa, Cezinha de Madureira declared that this official mission will take place "very soon," but that there is no date yet.

"We are concerned because these are specific situations, which need to be explained. Some of Universal's pastors and missionaries in Angola were sent to Brazil and their wives stayed there. It needs to be explained what is happening," he concluded.

The Brazilian government also told Lusa that it has provided consular assistance, "at the highest level," for "protection of Brazilian religious" in Angola and denied "abuses or excesses" by the Angolan authorities in the deportation process.

"The Brazilian Government has been following, with attention, the unfolding of the dispute involving the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD) in Angola. (...) The Embassy of Brazil in Luanda has successfully managed with the Angolan Ministry of Interior in favor of the voluntary presentation" of citizens in the deportation process, indicated the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement sent to Lusa.

According to the executive, two vice-consuls of the Brazilian Embassy "personally accompanied the processing of the nationals at the headquarters of the Migration and Foreigners Service of Angola," having reported "respectful treatment" to the Brazilians, "despite the complexity of the situation.

The Brazilian consular agents reported "no abuses or excesses" by the Angolan authorities.

"The Embassy of Brazil in Luanda has news that other nationals may be notified to leave Angola and is in constant contact with the local authorities on the matter. It is recalled that the stay of foreigners in its territory is a sovereign decision of a State," stressed the guardianship.

At issue is the deportation of Brazilian missionaries of the UCKG.

In this sense, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Carlos França, summoned last Thursday the Angolan ambassador in Brasilia, Florêncio Mariano, to clarify the deportation process and its legal aspects.

The Brazilians of the UCKG were notified in April to voluntarily leave the country for having ceased ecclesiastic activity in Angola and, as a consequence, to see their temporary residence visas cancelled, following a letter from the new Angolan direction of the UCKG.

The internal conflict in the UCKG had its beginning in November 2019, when a group of Angolan dissidents decided to distance themselves from the Brazilian direction, with several accusations, namely of currency evasion, racism, compulsory practice of vasectomy, among others, all rejected by the missionaries of the church created by the Brazilian Edir Macedo, who also accuse the Angolans of xenophobia and aggression.

In the Angolan courts, after the beginning of the differences between the parties, aggravated by the forcible takeover of temples all over the country, several lawsuits related to the UCKG Angola are underway.

A Reform Commission of Angolan pastors was legitimized by the Angolan State, and the new direction of the UCKG, headed by Bishop Valente Bezerra, was elected in a general assembly on February 13.

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