Pedro Casaldáliga

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Pedro Casaldáliga
Bishop of São Félix do Araguaia
Pere Casaldàliga (cropped).jpg
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
DioceseSão Félix do Araguaia
In office1971–2005
PredecessorTerritorial prelature created
SuccessorLeonardo Ulrich Steiner
Ordination31 May 1952
Consecration23 October 1971
by Fernando Gomes dos Santos
Personal details
Birth namePere Casaldàliga i Pla
Born(1928-02-16)16 February 1928
Balsareny, Catalonia, Spain
Died8 August 2020(2020-08-08) (aged 92)
Batatais, São Paulo state, Brazil

Pere Casaldàliga i Pla CMF, known in Portuguese as Pedro Casaldáliga (16 February 1928 – 8 August 2020), was a Spanish-born Brazilian prelate of the Catholic Church who led the Territorial Prelature of São Félix, Brazil, from 1970 to 2005. A bishop since 1971, Casaldàliga was one of the best-known exponents of liberation theology. He received numerous awards, including the Catalonia International Prize in 2006. He was a forceful advocate in support of indigenous peoples and published several volumes of poetry.



Pere Casaldàliga was born on 16 February 1928 in Balsareny, Catalonia, Spain, and grew up on his family's cattle ranch.[1] He joined the Claretians, entering the Claretian Seminary of Vic at the age of nine.[2] He was ordained a priest in Barcelona on 31 May 1952.[3]

Casaldàliga moved to Brazil as a missionary in 1968.[4] On 27 April 1970, Pope Paul VI named him Apostolic Administrator of the Territorial Prelature of São Félix. On 27 August 1971, Pope Paul named him prelate of that jurisdiction and titular bishop of Altava.[5] He received his episcopal consecration on 23 October from Fernando Gomes dos Santos, Archbishop of Goiânia.[citation needed]

Brazilian dictatorship[edit]

In the 1970s, the military regime ruling Brazil tried without success to force Casaldàliga to leave the country. His advocacy for indigenous peoples and peasants resulted in repeated death threats, and in 1976 a priest was killed standing alongside him at a march protesting the mistreatment of female prisoners.[4] In the 1980s, he refused to make the required ad limina visits to Rome that bishops normally make every five years. He said he feared not being able to re-enter Brazil and said "The visits were bureaucratic and formal and did not lead to proper dialogue."[4]

Casaldàliga co-founded the Conselho Indigenista Missionário [pt] in 1972, an organ of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil that fights for the right to cultural diversity of indigenous peoples to strengthen its autonomy.[6]

In 1986, Casaldàliga founded a pilgrimage, Romería de los Mártires, held every five years.[7] It centers on the site where Jesuit João Bosco Bernier was killed at Casaldáliga's side on 11 October 1976, the Sanctuary of the Martyrs of the "Caminhada".[8]

Liberation theology movement and friction with the Vatican[edit]

In June 1988, as part of a Vatican effort to place restrictions on the liberation theology movement and following its 1985 silencing of Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, Casaldáliga was called to Rome to be examined by Cardinals Joseph Ratzinger and Bernadin Gantin on his theological writings and pastoral activity. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Congregation of Bishops produced a statement for him to sign as an acknowledgment of his errors. The statement decreed that he would not add political content to processions, would accept restrictions on his theological work, and only say Mass or preach outside of Brazil, especially in Nicaragua, with permission from the local bishop. He did not sign it. He summarized his views: "My attitude is a reflection of the view of the church in many regions of the world... I have criticized the Curia over the way bishops are chosen, over the minimal space given to women, over its distrust of liberation theology and bishops' conferences, over its excessive centralism. This does not mean a break with Rome. Within the family of the church and through dialogue, we need to open up more space."[4][9]

Later years[edit]

Pope John Paul II accepted Casaldàliga's resignation on 2 February 2005.[10] Anticipating the appointment of his successor, he objected that it would happen without the people of the prelature being consulted.[11] In retirement he continued to live in São Félix do Araguaia,[12][a] and work as an ordinary priest under his successors.[7]

When the CDF criticized the work of theologian Jon Sobrino of El Salvador in 2007, Casaldáliga responded with an open letter asking that the Church confirm its “real commitment to the service of God’s poor" and acknowledge "the link between faith and politics".[13] He had Parkinson's disease since at least 2012;[12] he referred to it as "Brother Parkinson".[7]

In 2015, Pope Francis consulted Casaldàliga, among others, during the writing of the encyclical Laudato si'.[14][15]

Death threats[edit]

Casaldàliga was the target of death threats, and even assassination attempts, throughout his life. In 1993 Amnesty International showed concern for the safety of Bishop Casaldàliga when landowners hired gunmen to kill him.[16][17]

In December 2012, Casaldàliga had to flee his home, and the Federal Police hid him for two months after he received death threats from landowners from the region when he helped the Xavante people regain their land.[18][19]


On 4 August 2020, Casaldàliga was admitted to the hospital for respiratory problems, being very weak due to his advanced state of Parkinson's disease. He tested negative for COVID-19.[20]

Casaldàliga died on 8 August 2020, in Batatais, in the state of São Paulo.[21]

Awards and honors[edit]

Select writings[edit]

  • África De Colores. Promoción Popular Cristiana, 1961.
  • Creio na Justiça e na Esperança. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1977.
  • Proclama del justo sufriente: relatos y poemas brasilero (con Frédy Kunz y Pedro Terra). Centro de Estudios y Publicaciones, 1979.
  • Experiencia de Dios y Pasión por el Pueblo. Santander: Sal Terrae, 1983. ISBN 84-293-0670-6
  • Comunidade, ecumenismo e libertação'. São Paulo: EDUC, 1983. ISBN 85-050-0035-8
  • Nicaragua, Combate y Profecía. San José de Costa Rica: DEI, 1987. ISBN 99-779-0439-1
  • El vuelo del quetzal: espiritualidad en Centroamérica. Maíz Nuestro, 1988.
  • Leonidas Proaño: El Obispo de Los Pobres (con Francisco Enríquez). Quito: El Conejo, Corporación Editorial, 1989. ISBN 9978-87-009-1
  • Espiritualidad de la Liberación (con José Mª Vigil). Santander: Sal Terrae, 1992. ISBN 84-293-1076-2
  • Sonetos neobíblicos, precisamente. Musa, Nueva Utopía, 1996.
  • Ameríndia, morte e vida (con Pedro Terra). Petrópolis: Paulus, 1997.
  • Murais da libertação (con Cerezo Barredo). São Paulo: Loyola, 2005.
  • Orações da caminhada (con Pedro Terra). Verus Editora, 2005.
  • Versos adversos: antologia (con Enio Squeff). Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo, 2006.
  • Martírio do padre João Bosco Penido Burnier. São Paulo: Loyola, 2006. ISBN 85-15-03238-4

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ As of 2018, the town had a population of 10,500. The nearest airport in Cuiabá, capital of the state of Mato Grosso, is reached by a 16-hour trip on dirt roads.[7]



  1. ^ "Casaldáliga, Pedro (1928–)". 14 October 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  2. ^ Campurbí, Berta (10 February 2018). "Pere Casaldàliga, 90 años: un día en casa del 'obispo de los pobres'". El Periódico de Catalunya.
  3. ^ "Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga Plá, C.M.F." Catholic Hierarchy. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Riding, Alan (27 September 1988). "Vatican Acts To Discipline Cleric in Brazil". New York Times. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  5. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXIII. 1971. p. 782.
  6. ^ "Dom Pedro Casaldáliga morre aos 92 anos". Correio Braziliense (in Portuguese). 8 August 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d Avendaño, Tom C. (16 February 2018). "Pedro Casaldáliga: 90 años de vida, 50 del 'obispo del pueblo'". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  8. ^ Modino, Luis Miguel (14 July 2016). "La Romería de los Mártires de la "Caminhada", este fin de semana". Periodista Digital (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  9. ^ Arias, Juan (22 June 1988). ""Estoy dispuesto a dar mi vida por Pedro, pero por el Vaticano es otra cosa", afirma el obispo Casaldáliga". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 02.02.2005" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 2 February 2005. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  11. ^ Arias, Juan (16 January 2005). "Casaldáliga reta a Roma". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Pere Casaldàliga, evacuado de su casa de São Félix por amenazas de muerte". Periodista Digital (in Spanish). 8 December 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  13. ^ Rohter, Larry (7 May 2007). "As Pope Heads to Brazil, a Rival Theology Persists". New York Times. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Pedro Casaldáliga, el "apóstol" catalán que lucha por los indígenas de la Amazonía y asesora al Papa". (in Spanish). 16 August 2015.
  15. ^ "La primera encíclica del Papa es ecologista". (in Spanish). 2 June 2015.
  16. ^ "UA 393/93 - BRAZIL: DEATH THREATS: BISHOP PEDRO CASALDALIGA". Amnesty International. 5 November 1993.
  17. ^ "El obispo Pedro Casaldáliga, amenazado de muerte". El Plural (in Spanish). 11 December 2012.
  18. ^ "El obispo Casaldàliga abandona su casa en Brasil tras recibir amenazas de muerte". El País (in Spanish). 8 December 2012.
  19. ^ "48 horas con Pedro Casaldáliga, el teólogo de la Liberación que vive con los indígenas en la Amazonía". El Mundo (in Spanish). 21 February 2018.
  20. ^ "El obispo Pedro Casaldáliga, ingresado por problemas respiratorios en un hospital de Brasil". El País (in Spanish). 4 August 2020. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  21. ^ "Morre dom Pedro Casaldáliga, o bispo do chapéu de palha que enfrentou latifundiários na Amazônia". Folha de S.Paulo (in Portuguese). 8 August 2020. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  22. ^ "Cercador de normativa". Portal Jurídic de Catalunya. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  23. ^ "Dom Pedro Casaldáliga, o Doutor Honoris Causa que enfrentou a ditadura". Unicamp (in Portuguese). 8 August 2020.
  24. ^ "2006 Pere Casaldàliga". Generalitat de Catalunya: Department de la Presidència. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  25. ^ "Pere Casaldàliga Doctor honoris causa per la Universitat Catòlica de Goiàs". Catalunya Religió (in Catalan). 25 September 2012.
  26. ^ "PUC entrega doctorado honoris causa a Dom Pedro Casaldáliga". Amerinida (in Portuguese). 26 September 2014.

Additional sources[edit]

  • Escribano, Francesc (2002). Descalzo sobre la tierra roja: vida del obispo Pere Casaldàliga (in Catalan). Barcelona: Ediciones Península. ISBN 84-8307-453-2.
  • Marzec, Zofia (2005). Pedro de los pobres (in Spanish). Madrid: Nueva Utopía. ISBN 84-96146-13-8.
  • Soler i Canals, Josep Maria; Serra, Sebastià (2013). Pere Casaldàliga (in Catalan). L'Abadia de Montserrat. ISBN 978-84-9883-631-8.
  • Guerrero, Joan (2016). Casaldàliga: la seva gent i les seves causes = su gente y sus causas = sua gente e suas causas. Claret. ISBN 978-84-9846-988-2.

External links[edit]