Dom Luciano Mendes de Almeida received tribute this past May 17 in BrasÀlia, the capital of Brazil, during a Special Session of the Chamber of Deputies.
Dom Luciano was Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Mariana, state of Minas Gerais, for 16 years, and was president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) between 1987 and 1994.
The bishop played a decisive role in the negotiation process for the Federal Constitution of 1988 and in the episode where the daily “O Estado de S.Paulo” made accusations against the Indianist Missionary Council (Cimi).
In 1987, the newspaper published reports about the alleged role of religious missions as a front for the interests of foreign mining companies.
After six days of articles which directly accused Cimi, CNBB managed to get the Courts to oblige the newspaper to publish the organization’s right of reply.
During the tribute in Brasília, which lasted four hours, Dom Luciano said in a calm and leisurely speech that he found the meaning of solemnity in people’s causes.
“I was thinking about the meaning of what we are doing here. And I saw that it is the causes that matter: land, work, the indigenous populations, the Negro slaves,” said the bishop.
“At this moment I am someone who helps these causes to be present in this house,” he finished.
Around 200 Landless Rural Workers connected to the Landless Movement who had walked from Goiânia to Brasília on the National March for Agrarian Reform took part in the Session. Churchgoers and politicians from the Mariana region, in Minas Gerais. were also there.
“Your presence has brought me very special happiness and has also created a stronger commitment,” the bishop said, thanking the participants for coming.
Dom Luciano also remembered absent friends and militants, including factory worker Santo Dias, the Guarani-Kaiowá Marçal de Souza, and the American Sister Dorothy Stang.
Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council – www.cimi.org.br
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