Archbishop of Slums

When I feed the hungry, they call me a saint.  When I ask why people are hungry, they call me a Communist.

– Father Dom Helder Camara


A conversation he had with his torturer when the military captured him:

How can a Christian collaborate with a communist?

— For me, men are not divided into believers and atheists, but between oppressors and oppressed, between those who want to keep this unjust society and those who want to struggle for justice.

Have you forgotten that Marx considered religion to be the opium of the people?

— It is the bourgeoisie which has turned religion into an opium of the people by preaching a God, lord of the heavens only, while taking possession of the earth for itself.

Father Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian archbishop, as quoted in
Peace Behind Bars : A Peacemaking Priest’s Journal from Jail” (1995) by John Dear, p. 65; this is a translation of “Quando dou comida aos pobres chamam-me de santo. Quando pergunto por que eles são pobres chamam-me de comunista.

– from `Bishop of the slums’ — Dom Hélder Camara and Brazil’s church of the poor

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