Dom Hélder Câmara: A Sign of Contradiction

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GianPaolo Salvini, SJ

 GianPaolo Salvini, SJ / Issue 1701 / 10 February 2017

One of the best known and most important figures in the Latin American Church of the last century, and in the universal Church as well, is Dom Hélder Câmara (1909-99), known above all for his actions and testimony as the archbishop of Recife.

Long ostracized by his country’s military government due to being considered subversive, and recommended multiple times for the Nobel Peace Prize, without success, Dom Hélder was subsequently rehabilitated by the authorities of his country. His testimony became a symbol of a Church that fights for freedom and greater justice. His cause of beatification was recently initiated, at the unanimous request of the Brazilian episcopate.

Around the world, he is remembered only for the latter part of his life, which is covered by numerous publications, but in truth Dom Hélder Câmara accompanied the troubled historical events of his country for most of the century (he died at 90 years of age). It is not our intention here to provide a complete biography[1] , but rather to indicate some of his defining characteristics.

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