|Archbishop-Emeritus of Olinda e Recife|
|See||Olinda e Recife (Emeritus)|
|Installed||12 March 1964|
|Term ended||2 April 1985|
|Predecessor||Carlos Gouveia Coelho|
|Successor||José Cardoso Sobrinho|
|Ordination||20 April 1952
by Jaime de Barros Câmara
|Birth name||Hélder Pessoa Câmara|
February 7, 1909|
|Died||August 27, 1999
|Coat of arms|
Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara (Portuguese pronunciation: [dõ ˈɛwdeʁ peˈsow.wɐ ˈkɐ̃mɐɾɐ], February 7, 1909, Fortaleza, Ceará, Northeast Region of Brazil – August 27, 1999, Recife) was Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, serving from 1964 to 1985 during the period of repression under the military dictatorship.
Early life and education
After his appointment as the 'Bishop of Corum,' Câmara was known for his clear position on the side of the urban poor. In 1959 he founded Banco da Providência in Rio de Janeiro, a philanthropic organization to fight poverty and social injustice by making it easier for poor people to receive loans.
He became a proponent of liberation theology and served the poor in northeast Brazil for most of his career. He was Archbishop of the Diocese of Olinda and Recife from 1964 to 1985, during the period of repression under the military dictatorship.
Câmara spoke out and wrote about the implications of using violence to repress rebellion resulting from poverty and injustice in other venues than Brazil. He published Spiral of Violence (1971), a short tract written when the United States was immersed in a still escalating Vietnam War. It is distinctive for linking structural injustice (Level 1 violence) with escalating rebellion (Level 2 violence) and repressive reaction (Level 3 violence). In it, Câmara called on the youth of the world to take steps to break the spiral, saying their elders became addicted to those escalating steps. By the early 21st century, this book had been out of print in the United Kingdom for about 20 years. A scanned version in English is available on the web at the link given below.
Legacy and honors
- In 1973, Câmara was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).
- In 1975, he was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award, initiated by the Catholic Interracial Council of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of good will to secure peace among all nations. Pacem in Terris is Latin for "Peace on Earth."
- Quote: "Quando dou comida aos pobres chamam-me de santo. Quando pergunto por que eles são pobres chamam-me de comunista." – cited in Zildo Rocha, Helder, O Dom: uma vida que marcou os rumos da Igreja no Brasil (Helder, the Gift: A Life that Marked the Course of the Church in Brazil), Page 53, Editora Vozes, 2000, ISBN 85-326-2213-5, ISBN 978-85-326-2213-6 – 208 pages (Portuguese)
- `Bishop of the slums', Links (Australia)
- Nobel Peace Prize nominations. American Friends Service Committee
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hélder Câmara.|
- Links for Dom Helder Camara
- Text of Câmara's Spiral of Violence, Alastair McIntosh website
- Text of Câmara's 1972 speeches to Mani Tese, University of St. Thomas