Brazil: Amazonia: Assassination of Sister Dorothy Stang

From Brazil, Joe Listo writes: There follows a free-translation of a memo circulating on the internet for the last few days in connection with the assassination of sister Dorothy Stang.  As could be expected, the set of questions is not signed, and no one appears to know where it originated. This is probably the silliest text I have seen in years, but gibberish like this can also spark anti-American feelings in those not aware of the facts. The Ianomami reservation was established under the pressure of the Ianomami themselves, who were all too eager to exploit the riches of the region (ore, gold, precious stones, wood, etc). I have never read a word in the papers that the US or any other developed countries were involved. On the other hand, the Ianomamis have killed many FUNAI (National Foundation for the Indians) members who attempted to contact them, and will certainly kill any land-grabber. The reason for the FBI to send agents to follow the investigations is two-fold: a) the Brazilian police lacks appropriate forensic training and the Bureau could be of assistance in conducting the initial examinations, and b) sister Stang, although a Brazilian citizen by choice, was American by birth and her family might have asked the FBI to step in, fearing the perpetrators would never be apprehended.That the Ianomamis communicate better in English than in Portuguese it does not come as a surprise to me. Portuguese is not the Ianomamis'´ native language, so for them learning Portuguese or English is a matter of choice. Trying to imply that the Ianomamis speak better English because of a supposed massive American presence in the region would not resist even the most superficial analysis.  Here is the text of the internet message:

"Questions demanding answers"!
 1) What was a religious doing in the middle of the Amazon jungle?
 2) What tribe was she catechizing?
 3) Why do these religious missionaries collect so many plants and soil samples and send them to their countries for analysis?
 4) Why don't the missionaries who live in the Amazon rain forest collecting samples of our biodiversity catechise people living in the slums, converting the thugs who live there?
 5) If sister Dorothy was really carrying out  missionary work, why have our bishops never uttered a single word about the murder?
 6) Is it possible that the sister, a religious missionary, was murdered because she was preaching  Jesus'  teachings?   
 7) Why do our authorities not stop the invasion of our Amazon?
 8) Will the danger of occupation come from our neighboring countries? Or from those located a little further "north"?
 9) Why is it that our Indians communicate better in English than ib Portuguese? The Ianomami reservation, which has the size of Portugal, houses 3.000 Indians at the most. Why there was there so much foreign pressure for the reservation to be established?

If our authorities pretend not to see what really happens in our Amazon, the above questions will serve to alert Brazilians who have watched the invasion of Iraq. Read the reports from GELIO FREGAPANI and be aware of the "silent" invasion of our Amazon. The Ministry of Defense sends an army to the crime scene, the Air Force squadrons of planes and choppers, and the Federal Police a team of investigators. Why all that to investigate a crime so common and easy to solve?Would the government be under pressure from our "friends" from the North? The FBI also sent its agents to investigate a murder that was already solved; Why all this apparatus? Why did other previous assassinations involving foreigners in Brazil not mobilize such a fantastic apparatus? Is it possible that the sister´s mission was to carry on something way beyond religious catechizing? In the meantime, a biologist is murdered in the State of Rio de Janeiro. Well, never mind.. he was just a Brazilian!"

RH: Some Middle East countries fear a US invasion, but talk of a US invasion of Brazil is a clear attempt to stir up anti-American feeling, as is the suggestion that missionaries are agents of US imperialism.  Who is behind this campaign?

The American nun Dorothy Stang was murdered in Amazonia- From Brazil, Joe Listo reports: The press has just announced that the Federal Police closed the investigations related with the assassination of Sister Dorothy Stang. Two farmers in the Amazon region have been formally charged with conspiracy to commit murder. They hired three gunmen to carry out the murder. The gunmen were apprehended shortly after the murder but refused to reveal the names of the person(s) who masterminded the crime. Yesterday they told police where to find the suspects. The two farmers had promised the assassins the amount of R$50.000,00 (roughly US$20,000) half of which had already been advanced. While the actual motivation behind the crime remains unclear, it appears that Sister Dorothy posed as a threat to land-owners, since she encouraged masses of landless peasants to invade private properties.  RH:  If the last is true, it would seem to be an activism inappropriate for nuns.  Is that part of liberation theology, a Brazilian invention?  Pope John Paul II opposed liberation theology. Puzzled, I thought it was for theological reasons. Perhaps he opposed "direct action", even though he criticized capitalism and defended the poor.

Pope John Paul II opposed liberation theology (invented in Brazil) and disregarded Vatican II.  Did he oppose liberation theology because it preaches "direct action"?  From Brazil, Joe Listo answers: The Roman Catholic Church in Brazil does not formally acknowledge liberation theology (which could be interpreted as a Brazilian invention, according to the book The Pope and the Liberation Theology, authored by Friar Betto, for which the Church defrocked him), but it is undeniable that it strongly supports various "pastorais" (works under church guidance in favor of the poor), spread mainly over central, north and northeastern Brazil. These "pastorais" most of the time exceed mere theological teaching and incite masses to invade land and other properties, on the basis that the government only cares about the rich. Lack of education in those regions make masses easy to control, and conflicts generally end with many casualties, as was the case of Eldorado do Carajás. In larger southeastern cities, the Church protects small-time criminals (who later will become big-time criminals) by harboring them in pastoral homes, away from the reach of police. Priests visit their families when they are killed in police raids, but they never visit the families of policemen killed in the line of duty, a situation which is fostering increasing social unrest. The foregoing considered, "direct action" by church members should not be ruled out.  RH:  This takes us back to the murder of Dorothy Stang, the American nun who urged peasants to seize land.  What was the attitude of the Church toward her activities and her murder?

Dorothy Stang an American nun in Amazonia, who urged peasants to seize land from the owners, was murdered. What was the attitude of the Catholic Church in Brazil? Joe Listo explains:  The church didn´t utter a single word in the press about the assassination of sister Dorothy, other than the usual deploring someone's death. The Roman Catholic Church in Brazil has immense power and rarely recognizes it is wrong on any given issue. Although silent after the assassination, if the church was to explain why a nun was killed while spreading the word of the Lord, it would probably downplay the case by trying to place the blame on the lack of control by the government in the region. Even though this statement would be entirely true, the church  would never admit that the murder could have taken place by reason of confrontations led by one in its own flock. There is no doubt that the church spearheads various "direct action" movements in Brazil (such as "pastorais", "landless", "homeless", etc). Friar Betto preached direct actions in his book on Liberation Theology and that was the reason Pope John Paul II rightfully defrocked him. It is outrageous to see how Church and State mix so often in Brazil, generally with the first having more power than the latter. Coupled with widespread corruption, it appears that Brazil will continue to be underdeveloped for centuries to come.

RH: John Paul II condemned liberation theology because it was influenced by Marxism,  This is a very vague charge-. For the facts about liberation theology, see

A Concise History of Liberation Theology
... From the book Introducing Liberation Theology published by Orbis Books. ... he historical roots of liberation theology are to be found in the prophetic ... - 23k - Cached - Similar pages

Liberation Theology and Land Reform
An online course examining the struggle for economic justice in a theological context, with particular attention to the question of land ownership. - 8k - Cached - Similar pages


Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: June 8, 2005