Media Seen as a Church Weapon in Brazil

KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, JUNE 13, 2004 ( The charity Aid to the Church in Need says one of its priorities is to help the Catholic media in Brazil.

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In a report on her latest visit to Brazil, Antonia Willemsen, the organization’s secretary-general, said that Cardinal Eusébio Scheid of Rio de Janeiro «sees the mass media as the most efficient weapon against the sects in general and the ‘Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus,’ or Universal Church of God’s Kingdom, in particular.»

Willemsen mentioned Rio’s «Radio Catedral,» founded by the then archbishop, Eugênio de Araújo Sales.

In their media activities, the sects «have focused in the first place on Rio and Sao Paulo, though they are very much present in the rest of Brazil as well,» Willemsen says in her report.

«Their growth is astonishing and frightening at the same time. The Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus is preaching the theology of prosperity: Give us your money, houses, valuables and you will receive» double in return, she reports.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of Catholics in Brazil fell from 89% to 73.9%. In the same period, the evangelicals increased to 15.6% from 6.6%.

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