Brazilian Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife
Hélder Câmara, fully Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara
Brazilian Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife
In the developed countries of the capitalist world, the mass media are beginning to become businesses, and huge businesses at that. The freedom of journalists is now becoming, in most cases, a very relative thing: it ends where the interests of the business begin... In socialist areas, it is enough to recall that the means of social communication are the monopoly of the party.
It is a sad fact that, according to the statement of the Beirut Conference (1968), 80% of the world?s resources are at the disposal of 20% of the world?s inhabitants: ?While one segment of humanity is rich and growing richer, the rest will struggle in varying degrees of poverty and have little certainty of breaking out of their stagnation in the next decades.?
It is inconvenient for the rich countries to work out effective changes in the socio-economic, political or cultural structures of the poor countries, for the very simple reason that the latter would then no longer need to provide the raw materials essential for the administration and expansion of the developing economies.
Keep your language. Love its sounds, its modulation, its rhythm. But try to march together with men of different languages, remote from your own, who wish like you for a more just and human world.
Our responsibility as Christians makes us tremble. The northern hemisphere, the developed area of the world, the 20% who possess 80% of the world?s resources, are of Christian origin. What impression can our African and Asian brethren and the masses in Latin America have of Christianity, if the tree is to be judged by its fruits? For we Christians are largely responsible for the unjust world in which we live.
The capitalist empires, with their affirmations of sacrifice for the free world, of defence of private enterprise, of safeguarding order from subversion and chaos, are in fact defending their political prestige and the economic interests arising from it; they are indeed at the service of economic power and the international trusts. The socialist empires for their part are hard and intransigent, they do not allow pluralism, they impose dialectical materialism, demand blind obedience to the party, set up a regime of total and permanent insecurity and fear, just like the fascist dictatorships of the extreme right.
The conclusion may be (and probably will be) tragic, owing to the blindness of the privileged 20% of mankind, who think it ?normal? to spend 150 billion dollars per annum on armaments, but can hardly scrape together 10 billion for economic and social cooperation.
The first consequence is that existing structures are maintained ? structures in which centuries of violence are entrenched, for they protect the privileges of a minority at the expense of the poverty of millions. Totalitarian methods are adopted; informers are encouraged everyone suspects everyone else; liberty is completely suspended including freedom of speech. The atmosphere is one of complete insecurity, arbitrary imprisonment; moral and physical torture ate employed in order to extort confessions."
The present situation of mankind may be described briefly and objectively as follows: a sad reality, with marvelous prospects, yet the possibility (even the probability) of a tragic conclusion.
The prospects are marvelous because, as we all know, for the first time in history, man is in a position to fulfill the command of the creator to dominate nature and to complete his work of creation. For the first time the technological resources available could enable us ?to promote the good of every man and of the whole man.?
There are far more than two or three of us gathered here in his name; the master is therefore here in our midst. In every thought and word I shall bear in mind that he is present with us, listening to us, and that he will judge the statements that we make and the proposals that we submit.
Therefore, let us render this service in the cause of peace: without measuring the sacrifices, try to prove that truth, love and faith, with the divine blessing, are capable of moving and breaking down the walls of Jericho.
We should not delude ourselves: a change in structure in the underdeveloped countries is not possible without a change in structure in the developed countries. The expression must be taken literally. I do not mean merely a change in mentality with regard to the poor countries. I mean a profound change in international commercial policy. How much longer are we going to permit international trusts to make small groups of men fabulously wealthy, while they keep millions of others in slavery? I do not want to be told that modern corporations are becoming democratic because millions and millions of ordinary people are becoming shareholders and thus have control over the concern. Shareholders, yes, in the sense that they hold a few meager shares, but without any say in the management of the corporation, which is carried out anonymously, impassively and coldly by a group of people who do not mind coming face to face with those they have crushed."
During the course of centuries the injustices have become more and more firmly entrenched, and have perpetuated themselves to such an extent that we have come to accept them as the ?social order? which should he defended and safeguarded. While all this was going on, we Christians have detached ourselves from the problems of this world to such an extent that we have made it easier for injustice to take root."
What social order are people talking about? The one that we see today, that consists in leaving millions of God?s children in miserable poverty, should rather be called social disorder, systematized injustice. Private ownership? Is it not evident to everyone that on this point we Christians have abandoned the Fathers of the Church, and that we have ended by attributing divine right to private ownership, whereas God?s law says that the wealth of the world should be shared by all, and should never form odious, oppressive monopolies?
I thank our Father for this atmosphere of faith, which enables me to speak to you as if I were standing before the supreme judge and rendering account to him of my thoughts, words, actions and omissions, when speaking to you about ?development projects and concern for structural changes.
When we are dreaming alone it is only a dream. When we are dreaming with others, it is the beginning of reality.
If there is some corner of the world which has remained peaceful, but with a peace based on injustices the peace of a swamp with rotten matter fermenting in its depths - we may be sure that that peace is false. Violence attracts violence. Let us repeat fearlessly and ceaselessly: injustices bring revolt, either from the oppressed or from the young, determined to fight for a more just and more human world.
You have certainly observed what follies and cruelties are committed on the pretext of preventing subversion and combatting Communism.
The greatest problem of the Church is not a lack of priests, rather the hunger faced by the people.
I will never carry a weapon and will never kill anyone. But I am ready to give life for the poor.
I am... a human creature who considers himself a brother in weakness and sin of all people of all races and all corners of the world.
Do the people weigh you down? Don't carry them on your shoulders. Take them to your heart.
Without justice and love, peace will always be the great illusion.
When I feed the hungry, they call me a saint. When I ask why people are hungry, they call me a communist.