20 years after his death, Brazilian Bishop Helder Camara is closer to sainthood as the canonization process on the local level in Brazil was concluded in mid-December of 2018.
Capuchin Father Jociel Gomes, the postulator of his cause said that“Dom Hélder exhorts us not to forget the poor, the defenseless, and the marginalized.”
In an interview with “Avvenire”, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference and reported by “Zenith” news agency Gomes said that “We Christians have to struggle for the rights of those who don’t have a voice, for the oppressed and suffering,” Gomes said. “We have to be committed to practicing peace and justice.”
Câmara, who died in 1999, is considered as the fahter of the Liberation Theology who advocated human rights, democracy and the rights of the poor during Brazil’s military dictatorship for which he received numerous death threats. Liberation Theology is integrated into the social teaching of the Chruch. Pope Francis is frequently inspired by Camara’s teachings.
Born in 1909, Câmara was ordained in 1931 and became an auxiliary bishop of Rio de Janeiro in 1952. He participated in all sessions of the Second Vatican Council and is credited with making important contributions to Gaudium et Spes, the council’s celebrated Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.
He was a staunch supporter of the papacy –and after the issue of Humanae Vitae in 1968, reaffirming the traditional ban on artificial birth control, Câmara was the first person to send a telegram to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State congratulating Pope Paul VI.
On his part, Pope Paul VI always supported Helder Camara amidst calls for his removal. After the Coup d’Etat in Brazil (1964), Camara was nominated Archbishop of Recife until the dictatorship came to an end.
Helder Camara accepted the label of “socialist” and said that “my socialism is special. Socialism that respects the human person and goes back to the Gospel”.
Fr Gomes said that Helder Camara and Oscar Romero were both pioneers of what Pope Francis preaches today: A Church that reaches out and reaching georgraphival and existential periperies.
“We don’t know how long the process will last, but for our part, we’re committed to scrupulously and rapidly following the indications from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in the Vatican to abbreviate the time. We’re anxious that the testimony of the life and holiness of Monsignor Hélder be proclaimed to the world,”Gomes said.