"When I feed the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why so many people are poor they call me a communist" is one of the most widely quoted statements of Dom Helder Camara (1909 - 1999), an archbishop of Recife, Brazil, who was one of the pioneering figures of the liberation theology movement in the Catholic Church. The material in this volume in the Modern Spiritual Masters Series has been selected and edited by Francis McDonagh who has spent 20y years following developments and religious issues in Latin America. He has organized the writings of this prolific priest into sections which capture and convey the many themes and interests in his life:
• A Church of Service and Poverty
• From Paternalism to Liberation
• Walking With God
• The Unity of Creation
Dom Helder Camara was an active educator, an ardent believer in helping the poor, an advocate of dialogue with other faiths and belief systems, a staunch supporter of human rights, an exemplar of the link between contemplation and activism, a poet (7,000 poems), a defender of the natural world, a devotee of Teilhard de Chardin, a believer in the mighty works of men and women as "co-creators," and a defender of guardian angels. This spirited collection of his writings delivers a multifaceted portrait of an highly energetic, charismatic, and creative man of God.
Here are some thought-provoking quotations from Camara's writings:
• "We all believe that freedom is a divine gift to be preserved at all costs. Let us liberate, in the highest and most profound sense of the word, all the human beings who live around us."
• "Today's world is threatened by the atomic bomb of squalid poverty."
• "Opting for nonviolence means to believe more strongly in the power of truth, justice, and love than in the power of wars, weapons, and hatred."
• Hope without risk
is not hope,
which is believing
in risky loving,
in the dark,
the blind leap
letting God take over.
• "I know a priest who likes to shake hands with the trash collectors when they are loading the refuse onto the truck. They try to clean their hands on their clothes. The priest, rightly, says: 'No work stains human hands. What makes hands dirty is stealing, or greed, or the blood of our neighbors!' "