Seven years ago on Feb. 13, 2005, Dorothy Stang, an American Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, was martyred in the Amazon as a result of her work with the landless poor there. When two hired gunmen met her on a muddy path they asked if she was carrying a weapon. In reply, she took out a Bible and began to recite the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are the peacemakers.” Then she was shot six times and killed.
James Martin, over at America magazine, posted this wonderful video by students James Newton and Sam Clements that is one part of a series of four on Dorothy’s work in the Amazon.
In the summer of 2003 Newton and Clements headed to Brazil with a video camera, a map, and the idea to make a documentary. While filming in Southern Brazil, they heard about the extraordinary work of U.S. missionary Sister Dorothy Stang, a nun with a price on her head. For more than 20 years she had been fighting to preserve the Amazon rainforest, while helping peasant farmers live sustainably. Inspired by a mere five-minute call to Sister Dorothy, they set off on a 2500-mile journey to find her. Little did they know of the dangers ahead, or that Sister Dorothy would later be killed by hired gunmen.
With the creeping “reform the reform” movement that is blossoming under Pope Benedict, it is very important for Vatican II Catholics to give witness to why it is vital to the church (see also Hermeneutic of Dysfunction for more on this). Here’s an excerpt from his post:
Not too long ago, I considered myself a former Catholic. I asked, “How could I, in clear conscience, choose to remain in a church that often seems to forget its call to social justice and that covers up the terrible abuses of children at the hands of priests and bishops?” The answer to my angst now seems somewhat clear: If I leave the church, I would be dishonoring the legacy of the council fathers, who, in a span of some four years, rocked the foundations of an ancient edifice. Moreover, I would be “selling-out” the prophetic figures who followed in the Vatican II spirit – figures like Oscar Romero, Gustavo Gutierrez, Dorothy Stang, Jon Sobrino, Leonardo Boff, and several other less known men and women.
Though born twenty-one years after Vatican II, I consider myself a Vatican II Catholic. When I struggle whether to remain a Catholic, I simply recall the council fathers’ heroic and prophetic stances in favor of religious liberty, peace, social justice, the vernacular liturgy, and recognition of Jews as older brothers in faith. The council fathers and those following in their spirit remind me that being Catholic means emulating Jesus by practicing love and compassion for all, but especially the marginalized and oppressed. I can only hope to not disappoint these heroic figures!
There is no better Bible-buster/activist teaching today than Ched Myers and the good folks at Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries. Here are two up-coming residential week-long intensives–the Bartimaeus Institutes–in lovely Ventura County, CA, for you to check out. And watch the fantastic video! It’s visually rich and theologically exciting.
January 18-22: “A N.T. Theology and Diverse Practices of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking.” We are pleased to announce that Revs. Murphy Davis (right) and Eduard Loring of the Open Door Community in Atlanta will be joining Rev. Nelson and Joyce Johnson of the Beloved Community Center and Rev. Geoff Broughton from Sydney, Australia as special guests. Murphy and Nelson were interviewees for the second volume of Elaine & Ched’s Ambassadors of
February 22-26: “Ecojustice, Sabbath Economics and Luke’s Gospel.” This Institute is co-sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, whose missionary Dorothy Stang (right) was martyred in Brazil five years ago. We’ll hear her story and Ched will look at Year C lections from the third gospel as they relate to our economic and environmental crisis.