Brazilians Wary of Capucci

The possibility that Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, who was released earlier this month from Ramleh prison in Israel after serving three years of a 12-year sentence for arms smuggling and collaboration with terrorists, may be appointed as assistant bishop in Brazil, has caused unease among many of the 4000 mostly Syrian and Lebanese members of the Melchite church in this country.

Msgr. Elias Shuqueri, 67, the head of the 1000-member Melchite church in Rio de Janeiro, stated: “We do not like priests of this kind. No, we don’t. What our people need is education, not politics. What will this Capucci be doing here?”

Bishop Elias Cueter, leader of the 3000-member Melchite diocese in Sao Paulo, was equally adamant. The 80-year-old cleric told reporters, “I do not think he will come here. He should stay in Rome (where Capucci went after his release). He is a very sick man. I cannot say a word more.”

One Melchite spokesman said that if Capucci is appointed he will have to be advised to refrain from political activities, otherwise he might turn most of the Melchite community against him. Another member of the community said, however, that the presence of such a controversial figure could help promote the Melchites by calling attention to their small community in Brazil.

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