Archbishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo of Belo Horizonte in Brazil said this Monday during the Synod of Bishops that religious sects continue to pose a challenge, saying that if Catholics abandon the Church to join a sect it is “because they do not encounter God in her.”
During his intervention at the Synod, the Brazilian bishop said, “Often the simple people who leave our Church do not do so because of what non-Catholic groups believe, but fundamentally because of how they live out that membership, not for dogmatic reasons, but pastoral ones, not for theological problems, but because of the methods within our Church.”
The archbishop underscored that “many of those who turn to sects don’t want to leave the Church but are sincerely searching for God.”
Archbishop Oliveira de Azevedo underscored that for this reason, “sects continue to be an enormous challenge for the Catholic Church, and in order to confront them, a close connection” between ministry and personal testimony, between “the word proclaimed and heard and personal witness” is necessary.
The archbishop emphasized the sects in Latin America are filled with former Catholics, and he stressed that once they join such religious groups, they often change the way they live and “assume a dignified moral life, leaving behind everything that seems unworthy of the new life of believers. The Word they hear is formative for their lives, it nourishes their spirit and bears witness to the religious values that they now interiorize.”