Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara and the Consequences of Structural Injustice

Because of his famous quote mentioned in the prior post, I was curious to know a more about Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara and did a little research.

Câmara is perhaps best known for having written "Spiral of Violence," an influential essay that has been characterized as a work of liberation theology. Câmara wrote the essay in 1971; the Cold War and the Vietnam War provided important context for his views. The essay links structural injustice with escalating rebellion and repressive reaction. In the essay, Câmara praises Gandhi as a prophet. The essay is hopeful; Câmara expresses confidence in the future because of the promise of the world’s youth.

An English translation of "Spiral of Violence" is available at the following link:

In 1973, Câmara was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. In 1975, he won the Pacem in Terris Award, which is a prestigious Catholic honor that has also been bestowed on Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Sister Helen Prejean and Lech Walesa, among others.

Psalm 146:7 (New King James Version)

Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners.

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