Priest, Superstar

Priest, Superstar

Padre Marcelo is as far as you can be from a clergy generation that
believed that Marx and Christ had much in common. He talks against drugs and about heaven
and hell, he condemns homosexuality, abortion, and all kinds of contraceptives, and he is
also against giving women a wider role in the Church.
By Elma-Lia Nascimento

A charismatic, blue-eyed, handsome, 31-year-old Catholic priest from São Paulo has
become the most talked about TV attraction in Brazil in recent weeks. Priest Marcelo
Rossi’s participation in the most popular television programs is a guarantee of high
ratings while he preaches, dances and sings religious tunes like a pop star. His star has
risen so fast that he recently became the cover subject of weekly newsmagazine Veja,
the most important weekly publication in Brazil with a circulation of more than 1.2
million copies.

His masses, celebrated with song and dance in a former industrial warehouse in the
Santo Amaro neighborhood in the Greater São Paulo, draws as many as 60,000 believers. In
little more than a month his CD Músicas Para Louvar o Senhor (Songs to Praise the
Lord) sold 1.7 million copies. Best-selling band Só Pra Contrariar has sold 3.6 million
copies of its latest album Só Pra Contrariar. Some industry insiders believe the
dancing priest has a good chance to surpass this number.

Evangelical pastors have complained that the priest mixed Catholic songs with
evangelical ones. From the 13 cuts in the CD six are tunes sung by evangelicals. “I
made a point not to limit myself to the Catholic world,” he explained during a press
conference sponsored by PolyGram, his recording company.

As for his continuous appearances on TV he has no apologies: “We have shown that
it is possible to get the highest ratings on TV by preaching God’s word and without
lowering the level. But I am not a product, I’m a priest. If the TV stations are using me
to get audience, I am doing the same and helping people in the process.”

Very Human

Padre Marcelo was a late bloomer. Before entering the seminary he led a pretty normal
life for a teen-ager, going out on dates and having sex with a few girls. As a child in
Cruzeiro, a small town 125 miles from São Paulo, he thought about becoming a soccer
player, a fireman or maybe a Formula One driver.

He was not that interested in religion either. In 1980 when the Pope visited São Paulo
he was 13 years old and had already moved to São Paulo, but preferred to stay home doing
crossword puzzles while his parents went to catch a glimpse of John Paul II. In 1989 he
graduated in Physical Education.

Marcelo was 21 when two tragedies in the family brought him back to the church and
inspired him to dedicate his life to the priesthood. He lost a cousin, who also was a
close friend, in a car accident on the same day his aunt was diagnosed with a malignant
tumor. The following year a TV series on the Pope, which he saw a dozen times, became the
trigger for his religious vocation. In 1991 he entered the seminary.

He is as far as you can be from a clergy generation that believed that Marx and Christ
had much more in common than in disagreement. The popular priest talks against drugs, and
about heaven and hell as the more traditional priests do. He condemns homosexuality,
abortion, and all kinds of contraceptives, and he is also against giving women a wider
role in the Church.

His sermons are short and to the point. He likes to cite a saying: “In five
minutes is God who is talking, in ten is the man, and in fifteen is the devil.”
Worried about the short attention span of the believers he has introduced the Byzantine
rosary in his church, a prayer that takes about 10 minutes, one third of the time of the
traditional rosary.

A track from Padre Marcelo’s CD:

Anaw6kx de Deus

Se acontecer um barulho perto de você
É um anjo chegando para receber
Suas orações e levá-las a Deus
Então abra o coração
Comece a louvar
Sinta o gozo do céu se derramar no altar
Que um anjo já vem com a bênção nas mãos
Tem anaw6kx voando neste lugar
No meio do povo e em cima do altar
Subindo e descendo em todas as direções
Não sei se a igreja subiu ou se o céu desceu
Só sei que está cheio de anaw6kx de Deus
Porque o próprio Deus está aqui
Tem anaw6kx voando…
Quando os anaw6kx passeiam
a Igreja se alegra
Ela canta, ela chora, ela ri e congrega
Abala o inferno e dissipa o mal
Sinta o vento das asas dos anaw6kx agora
Confia irmão pois é a tua hora
A bênção chegou e você vai levar
Tem anaw6kx voando…

God’s AngelsIf there is some noise close to you
It’s an angel arriving to receive
Your prayers to take them to God
So, open your heart
Start to praise
Feel the heaven’s joy overflow on the altar
An angel is coming with blessings in his hands
There are angel flying in this place
Among the people and over the altar
Going up and down in every direction
I don’t if the church went up or havens came down
All I know it is full of God’s angels
Because God Himself is here
There are angels flying…
When angels go for a walk
the church is happy
It sings, it cries, it laughs and congregates
It Shakesabala hell and dissipates evil
Feel the wind of the angels’ wings now
Trust, brother, because it’s your time
The blessing has come and you are going to take it
There are angels flying

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