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Under the Banner of Bartolom é de las Casas. Brazilian Dominicans & Social Justice. “Con que derecho?. Question of Antonio de Montesinos, speaking for first OP community in Latin America, Christmas Eve 1511 “What right?” do the Spanish colonists have to exploit & enslave the native peoples

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under the banner of bartolom de las casas

Under the Banner of Bartolomé de las Casas

Brazilian Dominicans

& Social Justice

con que derecho
“Con que derecho?
  • Question of Antonio de Montesinos, speaking for first OP community in Latin America, Christmas Eve 1511
  • “What right?” do the Spanish colonists have to exploit & enslave the native peoples
  • from 1512 used tradition of natural law, favouring the citizen to demand social justice through the legal system
  • Francisco de Vitoria & followers in Salamanca took up the question of human rights for all
bartolom de las casas
Bartolomé de las Casas
  • La Brevisima relación de la destruicón de las Indias
    • evangelical vision of peace and justice for Latin America
  • Voyage of Christopher Columbus
    • Missionary chosen by God
    • His discovery could advance the meeting of peoples & continents
  • On the One Way of Bringing All Peoples to the True Religion
    • His missiological ‘Summa’
    • Little studied till C20th
  • Denigrated, while Vitoria’s work in Spain was well received
failures of evangelisation
Failures of Evangelisation
  • While the Church in Latin America preached the gospel of love & justice,
  • It used slave labour, accommodating injustice
  • In Brazil, Africans were enslaved, native Indians were decimated
  • Only in the C20th did a broad movement for Justice & Peace take up Las Casas’ teaching
option for the sert o
Option for the Sertão
  • 1881: French Dominican friars & sisters inspired by Lacordaire set up a new foundation in the Sertão (rural hinterland)
  • Among peasants, Indians & mestizo people: choosing to live alongside the oppressed
  • 1936 Italian Dominicans joined including
    • Domenico Acerbi, tropical medic
    • Candido Penso, bishop who built a hospital
  • Motto of the province: the truth will set you free
church renewal
Church Renewal
  • 1889 Brazil a secular republic
  • 1930s Catholic mobilisation for social justice
    • inspired by Quadragesimo Anno (1931)
    • ‘Social decalogue’ to parliamentary candidates 1933
  • Renewal of the Church
    • New groups & associations
    • Influence of Aquinas’ thought via Maritain
    • 1940s on: OP priories e.g. Rio de Janiero, São Paolo centres of spiritual & social renewal
louis joseph lebret
Louis Joseph Lebret
  • French OP, visited Brazil from 1947 for study & dialogue
  • Collaboration in social science & urban planning
  • Modernisation model of ‘economy & humanism’, harmony of ‘charity & technology’
  • Confirmed Las Casas’ ideals
  • “action leads to God” in the fight for justice
gospel social revolution
Gospel & Social Revolution
  • Social Encyclicals of John XXIII impact
    • Mater et Magistra (1961) on 70th anniversary of Rerum Novarum: greeted as new in Brazil
    • With Pacem in Terris (1963), seen as a charter for Catholic action
  • Gospel & Social Revolution (Carlos Josaphat Pinto de Oliveira, 1962)
    • Interpreting Sermon on the Mount in light of Communist Manifesto
    • Including the social encyclicals
the dominicans chance
The Dominicans’ Chance
  • Lay movement for social justice, Ação Popular
  • OP involvement in student & worker movements e.g.
    • Mateus Rocha, rector University of Brasilia
    • Emmanuel Retumba & worker-priests in São Paolo
    • Joao Batista & UNILABOR working community project
    • Priory of St Albert the Great, Perdizes suburb of São Paolo
    • Brasil Urgente weekly paper
  • Until 31 March 1964 military coup d’etat
frei betto
Frei Betto
  • Preacher, journalist, spiritual writer
  • Baptism of Blood (1982) on the dictatorship which ended 1980
  • contributed to foundation of Workers’ Party,
  • spiritual director, advisor to Lula
  • Led MIRE: Mística e Revolução (Mysticism & Revolution)
    • C20th-21st youth movement
    • combining spirituality & social engagement
    • to restart projects of the 1960s
amazon rights solidarity
Amazon Rights & Solidarity
  • Working with communities of the rainforest & Amazon basin against transnational companies exploiting the land
  • Henri Burin des Roziers & sisters, OP lawyers
  • St Dominic Solidarity Group
    • Communicating between activist movements across Brazil, then America
    • Solidarity with South Africa, East Timor
pastoral commission on the land
Pastoral Commission on the Land
  • 1988 constitution on land reform not enforced
  • Brazilian Conference of Bishops commission for land reform & against slave labour
    • Spiritual & ethical resource for MST movement of landless workers
    • OP involvment including its president:
dom thomas balduino
Dom Thomas Balduino
  • Bishop of Goiás, heart of Seratão
  • ‘flying bishop of the Indians’
  • Helped the Brazlian Church to serve the native peoples
  • A model of a Church of communion, participation & sharing
las casas mission today
Las Casas’ Mission Today

Dominicans in Brazil & Latin America

“are still called to give new life

to the option for justice,

by engaging in the difficult & exciting task of promoting human rights for all”

Carlos Josaphat Pinto de Oliveira

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