201: RED CHRISTIANS #21: Brazilian bishops ~1973

“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the only religious blog in the world which has more questions than answers. In it I muse aloud about religion and the world, I  hope you get something from my personal polemic!” Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.

This post should be read in conjunction with other Posts describing this period (see list at end).

Staements issued by the Brazilian bishops at the time of the military dictatorship (1964-1973), show not only how courageous they were, but how radical. In keeping with orthodox Marxist dogma, the Brazilian CP resolved in 1967 not to talk about socialism for a few decades until capitalism in that country had produced a sufficiently large industrial proletariat. Capitalist modernisation first, then revolution! Liberationist Christianity, on the other hand, inspired by religious and ethical considerations, displayed a much more radical, intransigent and categorical anti-capitalism – since it included the dimension of moral revulsion – than the Latin American CPs. (i)

In 1973 for example, the church in Centre-West Brazil produced “The Cry of the Churches” a document with the following conclusion:
“We must overcome capitalism it is the greatest evil, an accumulated sin, the rotten roots, the tree which produces all the fruit we know so well: poverty, hunger, illness and death…In order to do this it is necessary to go beyond private ownership of the means of production (factories, land, commerce, and banks)”

Also in 1973, the “Declaration of the Bishops of the N.E, of Brazil” (including Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Olinda and Recife) said:
“The injustice produced by this society is the fruit of capitalist relations of production which necessarily create a class society characterized by discrimination and injustice…the oppressed class has no other option for its liberation than to follow the long and difficult road to the ownership of the means of production. The foundation of a new society in which it becomes possible to create the conditions allowing the oppressed to recover the humanity they have been stripped of…The gospel calls on all Christians and all men of good will to join this prophetic current.”

The Latin American Bishops’ council (CELAM) had already declared in the late 1960s :
“The Christian religion has been used and is still used as an ideology justifying the rule of the powerful. Christianity in Latin America has been a functional religion for the system. Its rites, its churches and its work have contributed to channeling the people’s dissatisfaction towards the beyond, totally disconnected from the present world. Thus Christianity has held back the people’s protest against an unjust and oppressive system.”

Likewise the Peruvian bishops declared in 1969:
“We Christians should recognize that through lack of faith we have contributed in our words and actions, by our silence and omissions, to the present situation of injustice.”

(i) Löwy, M. “The war of gods” Verso (1996) p.74-78

Related Zingcreed Posts:
LiberationTheology, dead or alive?
Structural ‘sin’
Red Christians #2: Camilo Torres
Red Christians #3: Christians for Socialism, Chile
Red Christians #9: Marighella’s Dominicans
Red Christians #10 Church Base Communities of Brazil
Red Christians #11: Revolutionary Christian Movement of Nicaragua
Red Christians #18: Bishop Helder Camara of Brazil
Red Christians #20 Che Guevara
No way José (José Porfirio Miranda)

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