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Archbishop Helder Camara (CNS/KNA)

The Vatican has advanced the sainthood cause of the late Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara, who may soon be called “venerable”. Source: NCR Online.

Archbishop Fernando Saburido of Olinda and Recife made the announcement during the closing ceremony of Brazil’s 18th National Eucharistic Congress.

Archbishop Camara, one of the founders of the Brazilian bishops’ conference, was named to Olinda and Recife in 1964, three weeks before the beginning of the military coup that started the 20-year dictatorship in Brazil.

Days after the coup, the archbishop released a manifesto supporting Catholic workers in Recife. The new military government accused him of being a demagogue and a communist, and he was forbidden to speak publicly.

“If I give bread to the poor, everyone calls me a saint. If I show why the poor have no bread, they call me a communist and a subversive,” the archbishop is said to have said during that time.

Dom Helder, as he was known, remained a strong critic of the regime, denouncing human rights violations committed by police authorities.

In 1972, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and by 1985, when he retired, he was credited with having organised more than 500 base ecclesial communities, which use Bible study and prayer to address social or economic problems.

In 2015, 16 years after his death, the process of canonisation of the archbishop was opened and later, with the authorisation of the Holy See, he received the title of Servant of God.

Before he can be declared “venerable,” his cause must be approved by two other Vatican commissions and Pope Francis. The next two steps toward sainthood, beatification and canonisation usually require a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession.


Brazilian archbishop: Vatican is advancing cause of Helder Camara (CNS via NCR Online)