Friday, April 10, 2015

The initiation of Dom Helder Camara's path to sainthood now has a date

By Luis Miguel Modino (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Religión Digital
April 9, 2015

The Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife announced at a press conference on April 8 and informed through its web page that on May 3rd at 9 a.m. the people of God of the capital of the state of Pernambuco will meet at the Cathedral of the Holy Savior of the World in Olinda to celebrate the opening of the beatification and canonization process of Dom Helder Camara who was archbishop of this Brazilian archdiocese for over 20 years.

In this celebration, Monseñor Fernando Saburido, the current archbishop of Olinda and Recife, will introduce the members of the legal commission that will be responsible for recognizing the heroic virtues of one of the most important Brazilian figures of the past century and whose international recognition goes beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church. The prayer to ask for the intercession of Monseñor Helder Camara will also be presented.

At the press conference, the head of the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife signed the document publicizing the authorization of the Holy See, recorded in a letter sent by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and signed by Cardinal Angelo Amato, dated February 25th of this year in response to a letter sent on May 27th, 2014 in which Monseñor Saburido asked if there was any impediment to opening the beatification process of Dom Helder. The archbishop himself expressed his surprise at the rapid response of the Vatican Congregation.

Monseñor Fernando Saburido has always shown clear appreciation for his predecessor. And he stated it once again in the press conference when he said, "I have enormous affection for Dom Helder and since I came to the archdiocese, this wish of the people of God has existed." That attitude contrasts with Monseñor José Cardoso Sobrinho, successor to Dom Helder and predecessor of Monseñor Saburido, who took it upon himself to squander the memory of the one who is now being considered by the Church as a possible saint.

The process that will soon be initiated, and whose postulator is Frey Jociel Gomes, is made up of different parts that once completed will raise Dom Helder to be considered venerable, blessed, and a saint. It starts with drafting various documents and will move forward as miracles through the intercession of the Servant of God are recognized, as canon law calls for.

The importance of this news for Brazilian society is marked by the prominence it has had in the news headlines of "Rede Globo", the main Brazilian television network, which has highlighted the figure of Dom Helder and his contribution to the social development of the South American giant.

We can say of Monseñor Helder Cámara, born in Fortaleza on February 7, 1909, that he was one of the most outstanding people not just in the Catholic Church but in Brazilian society in the 20th century.

He was always one of the great defenders of the cause of the poor, especially during the era of the dictatorship that ravaged the country during the same period he was Archbishop of Olinda and Recife. The military regime accused him of being a Communist and a demagogue, being known as the "red bishop" as a result of his constant denunciations of the situation of persecution, exploitation and destitution in which a large part of the Brazilian population was living.

The result of this was the constant reprisals to which he was subjected, causing his house to be machine-gunned, his name not to be able to appear in the national press, an international campaign promoted against his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, and his most immediate collaborators to be imprisoned or even killed, as happened with priest Antonio Henrique Pereira Neto in 1970.

Dom Helder died on August 27, 1999, and his reputation for holiness has been growing with the passing of years, especially among the poorest people. He was buried in the Cathedral of the Holy Savior of the World in Olinda, where the initial celebration of this process will take place which many hope will lead him to the honor of sainthood.

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