Current Page: World | Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Former Brazilian Megachurch Pastor Defends Decision to Leave

Former Brazilian Megachurch Pastor Defends Decision to Leave

Caroline Celico, wife of Brazilian soccer player Kaká, confronted members of the Brazilian megachurch where she previously ministered over Twitter on Tuesday.

Celico, an ordained minister, had served more than 2 million people of the Reborn in Christ Church. She was also known for being an accomplished gospel singer herself.

Her husband, Kaká, was the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year. He attended the church since childhood, and was consecrated an elder in 2009. Kaká reportedly contributed a tithe of more than US$ 1.3 million per year.

Last December, the couple broke from the church without offering an official explanation.

Brazilian publication "O Dia" later reported that the couple expressed dissatisfaction with the church's administration.

In 2007, Estevam and Sônia Hernandes, who founded Reborn in Christ, were arrested in Miami, Florida, by the FBI for failure to declare US$ 56,467 to U.S. customs. Amongst a number of charges, both were accused of money laundering, perjury, libel, tax evasion and exploitation of non-profit status. They later pleaded guilty to smuggling, and were sentenced to five months in a Miami jail, and five months under house arrest.

Publications in Brazil speculate that the ensuing scandal may have contributed to Celico and Kaká's fallout last year. According to the church website, Kaká allegedly told Estevam Hernandes that the former was leaving for personal reasons.

Celico defended herself over Twitter when congregants began questioning her Christian life.

"It is funny that people concern about others. They should look at their own lives – their hypocrisies," wrote Caroline, in reference to Mathew 7:5. "Take the plank out of your eyes before talking about the small speck in your brother's eyes…even within your own family!"

She also argued that she and her family maintain a healthy relationship with God.

"We are not without church. We are the church; me, my husband and our children," she wrote. "We are in communion and at the seat of table of the Lord. We are happy and in peace. That's enough! Family is precious. Take care of yours."

A spokeswoman representing Celico told IG publication that the former pastor now "prefers to be called a Christian [rather] than evangelical, because this term does not exist in the Bible."

The couple currently resides with their son, Luca, in Madrid, Spain.

When asked by IG whether she attended Christian service there, Celico replied, "I don't attend church in Spain."


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