Page 1, 30th June 1972

30th June 1972
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Page 1, 30th June 1972 — 'Fight forces of capitalism' asks Camara

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'Fight forces of capitalism' asks Camara


ARCHBISHOP DOM HELDER CAMARA of Brazil, Shot at for his beliefs in his own country, this week called on Biltish Catholics to fight the forces of capitalist imperialism.

Cardinal Heenan, welcoming Dorn Helder to Westminster Cathedral Hall, said that only this week the President of the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Le Roy, had described him "as one of the great voices of our time."

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Catholic Institute for International Relations, Cardinal Heenan said the British bishops ha:d offered to help the Brazilian hierarchy when they had complained about the torture of prisoners by their government.

The offer was not taken up, said the Cardinal, but Dorn. Helder will return with a further request about what English bishops might do.

The Archbishop, whose words are not allowed to be reported in Brazilian newspapers or radio, also addressed packed audiences in Liverpool Stadium and Cathedral and St. Pancras Assembly Rooms in 1.ondon, and MPs and peers heard him at a special meeting in the House of Commons on the last day of his three-day visit.

The small and dynamic 63 year-old Archbishop, champion of the underdeveloped countries, in a worn cassock with a plain cross on a silver chain about his neck, commanded the complete attention of his audiences everywhere he spoke.


"It is impossible for the Church to stay in the sacristy, the love of God compels us to take on the problems of our brothers" Dom Helder told the CIIR meeting. "How can we close our eyes, our ears, our conscience before the injustices that leave more than two-thirds of mankind dehumanized by misery, and the rest of humanity running the risk of dehumanising itself by the ex

cess of comfort a n d selfishness."

While poor countries get poorer, the rich capitalist and communist empires engage in cold war. On both sides the pretext is the defence of liberty, said Dom Helder. "What is really going on is imperial expansion."

America gives defence of the free world as its reason for fighting in Korea and for sacrificing itself so terribly today in Vietnam, he said. It is maintianing direct control over Latin America through its economic After exposing Communism's tyranny, Dom Helder said: "Capitalism has been clever enough never in proclaim itself materialist but in reality it has a

materialist core. Choosing between capital and man. capital does not hesitate to embrace capital even if this means crushing human beings."

The International Development Decade, now completed, has resulted in less than I per cent of rich countries' wealth going to the poorer countries. The prosperity of the rich has as its price the increasing misery of the underdeveloped world, said the Archbishop.

Outlining the methods by which the rich economies exploit the poor countries he asked members of the CIIR to help "unmask the machinery of multinational corporations, the ultimate expression of capitalist egotism."


Speaking in Liverpool Stadium he developed the same themes, pointing out "religious freedom in capitalist countries only exists in so far as religion helps maintain social order, the prevailing situation. If it denounces injustice and the structure of oppression, it is regarded as dangerous. subversive and communist."

Archbishop Camara, who came to Britain as a guest of the Justice and Peace Commission of England and Wales, received a standing ovation from 1,000 people at the public meeting arranged by the Commission in London.

"We Christians are shamed when we see that our denominations make investments in business firms, some of which are engaged in the arms industry and which nearly all are giddily chasing after prosperity which derives from exploitation of those couniries which supply the raw materials," he said.

Warning of the danger of the Church becoming too involved in the capitalist structure of the West, he warned: "How can we be disinterested enough to pass judgment on capitalism if involved with it? Can we decide to 'Trust in the Father who feeds the birds of the air' and sacrifice prestige and money?"

All are interested in the injustices of others, but when you speak of injustices practised by the person himself or this coun Turn to page 8

"the level of comprehension generally drops to zero, or even to below zero."

Mr. Erik Pearse, secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission who sponsored Dom Helder's visit, said his enthusiasm had greatly inspired the Cornmission's new Commitment working party.

"This group is working to introduce at grass roots level concern for the poorer countries in every parish." Both those who wish to help through prayer and study and activists are catered for in the programme planned, he said.

"We hope to get Catholics in every parish in the country to sign a commitment card to help underdeveloped countries."

Dom Helder on several occasions called attention to the role of the Peace Commission. Mr. Perirse said the British delegation had prepared a special paper on the problems of poor countries exporting textiles, sugar and other commodities for a meeting of Common Market country Justice and Peace Commissioners in the autumn.

The Liverpool Stadium, where the South American Archbishop addressed his first meeting, was originally the site of a church used hy Liverpool merchants who made their money from the South African slave trade, said Mr. Pearse.

Miss Mildred Nevile, CIIR General Secretary, said the Institute was following up Dorn Helder's suggestion that Catholics could question the use of resources by International companies at their annual meetings.

Miss Nevile said: "A group of staff and others are studying the possibilities of using the democratic means open to us in Britain to bring influence to bear on Corporations exploiting poor countries."

Dr. Charles Elliott, formerly a staff member of SODEPAX, the Catholic/World Council of Churches organisation to help overseas development in Geneva, is a member of the group, said Miss Nevile.

Dom Helder, Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, one of Brazil's poorest regions, has had his house sprayed with bullets and one of his assistants was hanged after being tortured. Three of his books on the problems of poor countries have been published in England. Business influence is believed to have prevented the success of his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Dom Helder left his Liverpool Stadium audience with this question: "When will the Churches decide to denounce injustices from whatever system they arise, in the secure conviction that without justice there will be no peace."

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