Brazilian Bishop to Speak on Race Issues Tonight at 6 p.m.

February 06, 2008

February 5, 2008

Students, clergy and the public are welcome to attend a special program at 6 p.m., Monday, Feb. 25, "Building a Bridge in 2008," a forum on contemporary and historical efforts to foster racial unity in both religious and everyday life.

The program, sponsored by Saint Leo University Ministry, features the esteemed speaker, the Most Rev. Gílio Felício. As Bishop of Bagé, Brazil, the Most Rev. Felício serves as a spiritual leader in one of the world's most populous Catholic nations.

He will speak at the new Student Community Center on University Campus.

The Rev. Stephan T. Brown, S.V. D., director of University Ministry, arranged this forum for African-American History Month because of the important parallels between Brazil and the United States.

The history of both countries includes the slavery of Africans and their children. Slavery in Brazil was abolished in 1888, 25 years after President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves from the Confederate states during the midst of the American Civil War. The advent of emancipation in Brazil so moved and gratified Pope Leo XIII that he crafted an historic pronouncement to church officials decrying the wrongs of human bondage and extolling the virtues of freedom.

Today, Brazil's population includes more people with African ancestry than any nation outside the African continent. An estimated half of the nation's 183 million people claim some African heritage, and census reports from Brazil reflect a population of black, white and mixed-race ancestries. Yet social and economic divides persist in Brazil, which is considered the most influential country in South America.

Bishop Felício will be speaking in both Portuguese and English. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so please call (352) 588-8665 by the end of the day Feb. 18 to reserve space.

Rev. Stephan T. Brown, S.V.D., Director of University Ministry, (352) 588-8331 or
Jo-Ann Johnston, SLU staff writer, (352) 588-8237 or