Edir Macedo, leader of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and his wife, Ester Eunice Rangel Bezerra, were granted a diplomatic passport annulled by the Federal Justice on Tuesday (16). Macedo had obtained the special document in 2006, which was valid until 2011, and from 2014 until last year.
According to information from Folha de S. Paulo, the suspension was given by federal judge Vigdor Teitel, of the 11th Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro, after a popular action that called for the annulment of the ordinance that guaranteed the document to the religious leader. For Teitel, Macedo's activities abroad do not mean "country interest" to justify the diplomatic passport.
The ordinance that granted the document to the couple was signed by Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo and was valid for three years. Of the times he received the passport, the justification given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is that the leader of the Universal Church plays a relevant role for the Brazilian community.
The document guarantees various facilities for the carrier, including exclusive queues at various airports and visa exemption for entry into countries that have an agreement with Brazil. The practice of granting diplomatic passports to religious representatives has existed since the imperial period, but made available to the Catholic Church, and was released to other denominations in the mid-2000s.
In order to ensure equality, in 2006, during the government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (PT), the Itamaraty started to grant the document to up to two representatives of each religion. The measure was revised in 2016, under the Michel Temer government (MDB), when the chancellor was José Serra (PSDB).