Since the 290s - and mainly after the Peaceful Revolution in 201 - the Free Church professes the Liberation Theology, a school of tought which emphasizes the Cruisan mission to bring justice to the poor and oppressed, particularly through political activism.
The church is led by The Blessed One, the Father Bishop of Oran (Ļo Sacro, ļo Patro e Bispo de Oran), Jean Pallurez.
Cruisanism arrived in northwestern Melania with the first organized waves of Longerathian settlers, starting in 140 BP. However, large-scale work of Cruisan missionaries only began on the first few decades after the Plague. During the settlement of the northern and western coasts of nowadays Porto Capital by the Liliance-speaking colonists, a number of small skirmishes with the Extreman natives did occur. In one of these raids, on April 5 AP, one priest, Sebastián Giancarlo Patativa, was hit by an arrow shot by an Extreman warrior. Due to this event, he is revered as St. Sebastian the Martyr.
The arrival of the Maurestani invaders, in 40 AP, saw the establishment of Mounism as the state religion of the Empire of Maurestania. However, Cruisanism and all other faiths were protected under the Four Rules of God. After receiving official sanction by an early Emperor and severing its formal ties with the Lendian Papaists, the Diocese of Extremo was renamed the Imperial Maurestani Church in 65 AP.
For the duration of the Empire, the Church supported and financed many hospitals and universities across Maurestania, while (as per the Four Rules of God) keeping a low profile in politics.
Tough Times and the rise of Liberation Theology
The first wave of social unrest in Maurestania came in 259. The growth of moderate, left-wing political tought in university circles ignited the fears of conservative politicians in the Imperial Senate and, gradually, the constitutional Empire was made into a semi-dictatorial state.
At the same time, younger priests all across the Empire began preaching their Liberation Theology on seminaries and on their churches. According to this tought, sin is the root source of poverty, this sin being the opression by the rich against the poor. Liberation Theology, thus, explores the relationship between Cruisan theology and political activism, especially about social justice, poverty, and human rights.
One of the first priests to graduate from the Liberation-influenced Imperial Seminary of Abybass was Pedro Arines. In June of 263, together with other religious figures from the northern regions of the Province of Oran, he founded the (somewhat clandestine) Free Church, a social-democratic Cruisan-majority political party, advocating direct political action by the people for the return of democracy to the Empire. The Free Church served as an umbrella for a number of other Cruisan social organizations, working together with similiar-minded Mounist and Mezapatist groups, and also labour unions.
Starting in 264, little by little, the church began moving away from the status quo it had maintained since its establishment, by delivering several statements calling for democratic reforms. Although these were initially ignored by the government, it all changed when the then Bishop of Oran, Giancarlo Tevez, led a pro-democracy rally in Oran, on the 1st of December, 264, together with syndicalist unions and other left-wing figures. The Imperial Army dispersed the crowd with some violence, leaving a few dozen injured. This act by the Church was seen as a blatant disrespect to the Four Rules of God, and led to direct intervention of the government in the Church, with Bishop Tevez being removed and replaced by the conservative Juan al'Ifenie in January.
This action by the Imperial Government, however, only served to fuel more protests against autoritarism. On the 4th of February 265, the streets of most major cities of Maurestania were taken by rallying students and labourers, led by their unions and also by members of the Free Church. Chanting pro-democracy slogans, the crowds assembled near city halls and other public buildings before dispersing, sometimes after Police and Army pressure. After Bishop al'Ifenie treathened to expell several clergymen who took part on the protests from the Imperial Church, Father Arines and Bishop Tevez announced the schism of the Free Church of Oran, quickly being followed by other priests and most of the Cruisans in the Empire.
Meanwhile, opression by the government continued into other areas. Police raids routinely occured in universities, with students and professors deemed subversive being imprisoned. The media was subject to heavy censorship. Father Arines was forced into exile for a few months on March, returning on July. After his return, he took an even more pro-democracy stance, visiting political prisoners who spoke out against the abuses of the government. In September, he learnt that a young priest, José Vesário, had been arrested and detained after his home was raided by the police for having possession of documentation encouraging open rebellion. Arns first wrote to the Governor of Oran, then when he was denied entrance to the prison holding the detainee, Arines used the Free Church's radio service to denounce the events, also choosing to have a description of the arrest and torture nailed to the door of every church.
As said before, the Free Church was not the only pro-democracy group acting in Maurestania at that time. They were accompanied by Mounist and Mezapatist left-wing groupings, labor unions, student groups and intelectuals. However, as the government wouldn't possibly want to openly attack churches and temples or harm clergymen, the Free Church acted as a sort of safe haven for such groups - ie, the government wouldn't have any trouble ordering an union leader thrown in prison, but doing the same for a priest wouldn't be the same thing (even tought international observers described the situation as “open war between religion and dictatorship").
In January 266, a new wave of protest took place on major cities. TBC.
Since it follows Liberation Theology, the Free Church of Porto Capital has a very liberal doctrine. For instance, it doesn't require priests to take celibacy vows. Also, priests can be ordained regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Regarding modern, secular themes, the Church approves contraception and family planning, while at the same time disapproving abortion and euthanasia - although it leaves the final choice to its members.
Regarding the liturgy, the Free Church follows a form of the Papaist Rite [TECH: Latin mass], celebrated on local languages, and incorporating several ideas from reformist churches, such as acapella singing during the mass.
On social themes, the Church has a strong socialist character. It supports direct action to achieve political goals, and also supports enviromental issues.