Between 1968 and 1969, a small group of Dominican friars worked for an armed Marxist group in Brazil. The ALN (Ação Libertadora Nacional) was a Castro-ist band of several hundred who
- stockpiled arms
- robbed banks
- exploded bombs
- kidnapped diplomats e.g. the American Ambassador, Burke Elbrick in September 1969
It was led by the notorious marxist Carlos Marighella who wrote the “Mini-manual of urban guerrilla warfare”.
The regime’s response was a “dirty war” in which 138 citizens were “disappeared” and 184 were killed. Amongst the Brazilian catholic clergy over 100 priests were arrested including 30 bishops. They were tortured deported or killed (7)
The church at this time was divided with many supporting the dictatorship. Progressive clergy often indicated their solidarity with the poor by wearing a plain black wooden ring instead of the usual gold one.
The Dominicans in question ran an underground support group for the ALN. They were caught by the police imprisoned and tortured. After a widely publicized trial, 3 friars were imprisoned. Their trial was used by the authorities to discredit progressive clergy and to pressure the church against criticising the regime.
Marighela was shot dead by the police shortly after.
Serbin, K. “Secret dialogues”