Bishop Luis Fernandes has been involved with base Christian communities in Brazil from their inception and has written a book on base community formation. He has both inspired and organized the Inter-ecclesian Encounter of Base Ecclesial Communities, the annual meeting of representatives from communities throughout Brazil. He was interviewed in Campina Grande, Paraida, Brazil, by MevPuleo, a free-lance photographer and photojournalism during a three-month visit she made there this summer. - The Editors
Mev Puleo: Do you think the base Christian communities (CEBs) have or will have an impact on the structure of the church in Brazil or of the global church?
Dom Luis Fernandes: I personally see that our base communities could go in three possible directions. The first possibility is that they could be absorbed back into the traditional parish structures. This would result in some parishes that are renewed and reformed, but it wouldn't cause a deeper transformation in the very structure of the local church.
The second possibility is that the CEBs could close in on themselves, becoming confined like little islands within the larger church body. The church structure would continue on unchanged, obeying the rules of the game and marching to the traditional rhythm.
The third - and very beautiful - possibility is that the CEBs could gradually infiltrate and alter the very structures of the larger church. That is, they could provoke the formation of a new ecclesial model within the churches, bringing them into the same dynamic as the CEB model.
In Brazil we already have some dioceses that seem to have arrived at this point. And yet, at the moment, I don't imagine that this will happen at a global level, with the entire church entering into this structural transformation.
Do you think that CEBs are possible in the First World?