On August 27 1999 Dom Helder Camara died in Recife, Brazil. He was the Brazilian Catholic archbishop who became renowned throughout the world as the inspirer of Latin America’s “liberation theology” movement.
From the beginning of his priesthood, Camara campaigned for social change, but in the early years he sought it on the right of the political spectrum, something that he later bitterly regretted. His experiences of living with people experiencing extreme poverty changed him in time and he began to focus on the “unjust structures of poverty”. He said that the Church needed to work, not just for the people, but with the people.
In 1952 he became auxiliary bishop of Rio de Janeiro and played a key role in the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops over many years.
In the 1960s he took the concerns of the Latin American people to the Second Vatican Council in Rome and was involved in Medellin meeting in Colombia where the bishops made a “preferential option for the poor”, openly identifying themselves with the excluded and the exploited. Following the military coup a he was blacklisted and silenced from 1968 – 1977.
In 1985, Dom Helder retired as archbishop but even in the frailty and suffering of old age he continued pray and encourage others. His example and good work are a legacy well worth celebrating even though some of it was brought to an end when he retired and others took up leadership.
May we and all who are committed to living the Gospel of Jesus and working for justice and peace, be inspired by the life and ministry of Dom Helder Camara!
To read his obituary click on the following link: https://www.independent.co.uk/obituary-archbishop-helder-camara-1115091.html
Some quotes that Dom Helder is remembered for: