Activists from Latin American movements that obstinately and violently subvert private property are invited to hold meetings with important organizations of the Holy See; one of them is received by the Pontiff
I address Your Holiness in my twofold capacity as Prince of the Imperial House of Brazil and an active participant in the public life of my country to express a serious concern about the Catholic cause in Brazil and in South America in general.
Brazilians are largely aware that it was thanks to the entreaties of Pope Leo XIII, and in spite of the serious political drawbacks that such a decision would entail, that my great grandmother, Princess Isabel, Regent of the Empire, signed the Golden Law, on May 13, 1888, definitively abolishing slavery in Brazil. That action cost her the throne, but earned her the title of “the Redemptrix” in Brazilian history; and for it she received a Golden Rose from the Pope as a reward for her selflessness in favor of social harmony and the rights of the underprivileged.
Moved by the same sense of justice and dedication to the common good as my ancestors, I am honored to have founded and assisted for these last ten years the Peace in the Countryside campaign,1 promoting social harmony in Brazilian agriculture. This task is all the more necessary since the country’s rural areas have been thrown into convulsion over the last few decades by a series of land invasions, attacks, destruction of crops, confiscatory expropriations, outlandish environmental requirements, and legal insecurity.
At the core of this agrarian agitation—which is the main obstacle to the full development of Brazilian agriculture and cattle ranching, responsible for 37% of Brazil’s jobs2 and about half of all new jobs in the first semester of 20133—are found the Landless Workers Movement, better known by its Portuguese acronym, MST, and the international organization, La Via Campesina.
1. MST National Leader Uses Vatican Seminar as a Podium to Instigate Class Struggle
For this reason, it was with consternation that I learned that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences invited Mr. João Pedro Stédile, MST national coordinator and representative of Via Campesina, to participate as an observer in its seminar on The Emergence of the Socially Excluded, which was held in Rome on December 5, 2013, and with travel expenses paid for by the Vatican, as the beneficiary himself acknowledged.
This consternation has spread in Catholic circles, since the well-known MST agitator used the event as a tribune to promote his erroneous principles and false solutions based on the Marxist premise of class struggle and on the utopia of a collectivist society, a clearly foreseeable fact.
Indeed, just two days after the symposium was held on Vatican premises, Mr. Stédile addressed activists from the ultra-leftist Italian Altermondialista movement, in a vacant theater building they have occupied in Rome. In his talk, reproduced by the Adista News Agency,4 he boasted about his illegal methods. He acknowledged that “the institutional path to change appears decisively blocked,” and that, “all that the MST has conquered over its 30-year life is due to the practice of mass occupations,” in other words, the systematic violation of private property in the countryside.
According to Stédile, the MST’s need to use illegal means stems from the fact that “in the present historic context the balance of forces on the level of class struggle is quite unfavorable to the working classes”—that is to say, unfavorable to the leftist movements that usurp worker representation.
Stédile even admits that “the world lives a period of reflux of the mass movement” that affects the MST itself because “the conditions for class struggle have become more difficult: the masses have perceived the impossibility of a victory and are turning back.”
2. “The [Rising] Curve of Class Struggle Will Be Worldwide… and the Earth Will Tremble”
He contends, however, that this lack of popular support must not discourage leftist forces. Appealing to Britain’s “Communist Party Historians Group,” the leader of property invaders hopes that the present period of reflux will also be “a period of resistance…the prelude to a process of renewed effort.”
This period of resistance—which he says may take “some years” — should serve to “learn the lessons of class struggle over time.” And the MST must use it for its “political formation” by appreciating and “studying Marx, Lenin, Gramsci, but also Brazilians Paulo Freire, Josué de Castro and many others,” Stédile told his Italian Altermondialista audience.
Allow me, Holy Father, to emphasize the threat with which Stédile concluded his harangue: He pointed out that it is necessary for “the working class to unite on an international level” but that it should be done outside NGOs and Social Forums because these have failed in their task of “organizing the people.” He said that now it is necessary to gather “all the world’s social movements” into “another space” of confrontation with international finance. In this way, he concluded, “the [rising] curve of class struggle will be [on a] worldwide [scale] and therefore, when its ascension phase begins it will take place everywhere. And the earth will tremble.”
3. Stédile Boasts of Support in the Vatican; Leonardo Boff Rejoices
So far the earth is not trembling, but I cannot fail to ask, Holy Father, why was this harbinger of a viscerally anti-Christian revolutionary utopia and promoter of the systematic breaking of the law invited by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences? For if the popular classes are increasingly averse to revolutionary preaching, then obviously the only interest of the MST leader, and revolutionaries in general, is to instrumentalize both the Catholic Church and organizations of the Holy See as fellow travelers on their utopian adventure (hence his appeal to study Gramsci, the great ideologue of this strategy).
Stédile himself admits to this in an interview granted soon after his talk at the Valle Occupato Theater, bragging about having managed to “motivate the Vatican to help us with Via Campesina and to organize several lectures next year [in our capacity as] social movements.”5
Moreover, he hopes that “from now on, a greater dialogue between the Vatican and social movements” will be established, with the result that “the local churches … in our countries will listen to the people and not to the Apostolic Nuncio, who is a bureaucrat at the service of I don’t know who”(my emphasis). This is how he thanks the Vatican for the airline ticket he claims to have received…
Who would be the members of these “local churches” who under the pretense of listening to “the people” so outshine the Holy See’s representative, other than followers of Liberation Theology?
The euphoric tone with which one of the most acclaimed heralds of this theological current, ex-Friar Leonardo Boff, commented on Stédile’s Vatican incursion is telltale.6 Boff expressed his joy over the fact that “the poor and excluded”—in fact, extreme leftwing leaders—are now “summoned to Rome, to the Apostolic See, to speak for themselves.” He noted that “the theme says it all:The emergence of the excluded. This leads us to a central theme of Liberation Theology in its early days: The emergence of the poor”
According to him, the Vatican seminar may signal “the beginning of a new will to reinvent [sic] Humanity.” How this calls to mind the collectivist “new man” dreamed up by Marx!
4. Greeting an International Organization Responsible for Acts of Vandalism
Your Holiness, everything expounded above is bound to shock millions of Catholic Brazilians who know very well the track record of crime, destruction and misery that MST and Via Campesina have left behind in over 30 years of illegal land occupations and totalitarian control of the activists they gather in their camps.
These Brazilians will be even more disconcerted upon learning that, in addition to the invitation sent João Pedro Stédile to participate in the said Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ seminar, Your Holiness recorded a video message on this occasion, greeting the members of Via Campesina.
Maybe Your Holiness was not thoroughly informed, but this subversive organization became notorious to Brazilians in April 2006 as they watched on their TV sets the moving tears of researcher Isabel Gonçalves, who saw her meritorious effort of 20 years of scientific research destroyed by a vandal attack of 2,000 Via Campesina activists against Aracruz Celulose company in the State of Rio Grande do Sul.7 In a perfectly synchronized operation, the invaders destroyed large experimental greenhouses, irrigation systems, and plant nurseries, set installations ablaze, and shattered modern laboratory equipment.
Your Holiness can well imagine how incredible it will sound to the millions of TV viewers who watched in shock the scientist’s desolate tears, when they learn that in the video message Your Holiness encouraged Via Campesina to “carry on”—the very thing the scientist was unable to do, that is, to move forward with her well-deserving research!8
This action by Via Campesina was not the only one, Holy Father. For the sake of brevity, I will give only one more example. In June 2008, members of that organization destroyed all the research at the Carpina Sugar Cane Experimental Station, in Mata Norte, a facility attached to the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco (UFRPE). Around 4 o’clock in the morning, about 200 Via Campesina activists arrived in two buses and neutralized the Station’s night security guard. In a swift action that lasted about one hour, they destroyed experimental crops in the field, and research at the Plant Experiments Center. On the premises was research being done by the Experimental Station and by graduate students working on their Masters and Ph.D. theses.
According to the Station’s director, Djalma Eusébio, the scientific and technological losses are incalculable: “They destroyed plants that were part of a genetic improvement program lasting more than ten years. There were research lines being developed over more than two years which were completely destroyed. There’s no way we can recover from it,” he said. The demonstrators fled before the police arrived and left two of their flags in the field.9
A long book would be needed to narrate the series of destructive actions carried out by the Landless Workers Movement (MST) during their criminal invasions. I spare Your Holiness this unpleasantness.
5. How Will Via Campesina Interpret Your Encouragement to “Carry On”?
Via Campesina members will likely interpret your words to “carry on” as applicable to the above mentioned criminal actions. If so, they will clash head-on with the categorical words with which John Paul II, your predecessor, reaffirming the teaching of Leo XIII, condemned illegal land occupations on three occasions between 1991 and 2002.
While addressing bishops of the Brazilian Bishops Conference South Region 1 on their ad limina apostolorum visit in March 1995, John Paul II reiterated Church traditional teaching, stating: “I likewise recall the words of My predecessor Leo XIII when he teaches that ‘neither justice nor the common good allows any individual to seize upon that which belongs to another, or…lay violent hands on other people’s possessions’ (Rerum Novarum, 38). The Church cannot encourage, inspire or support initiatives of land occupation movements whether by the use of force or by a stealth infiltration of agricultural properties”10 (my emphasis).
In November 2002, the late Pope repeated his warning: “Much more is required to attain social justice than a mere application of ideological schemes derived from class struggle such as, for example, land invasions—already condemned during my pastoral trip of 1991.”11
6. Argentine Cartonero Leader Believes All Property is Theft and Dreams with a Heavily Planned Socialism
One cannot rule out though, that Your Holiness may be unaware of Via Campesina’s criminal doings in Brazil, and that the words “carry on” are simply a stylish way of closing your greeting.
However—and permit me to say this with all due respect—I would be even more perplexed to learn that Your Holiness is not perfectly aware of who Juan Grabois is, the Argentine activist of the Peronist “popular left,” who was also invited by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences not only to be one of the organizers of the Excluded seminar but also to be its first rapporteur, in other words, the person who would set the tone for the discussion that followed.
Grabois, a lawyer and activist of the Peronist left, who organized the network of cartoneros— Buenos Aires’ street collectors of used cardboard—into the so called Movement of Excluded Workers (MTE) and one of the founders of the Confederation of Popular Economy Workers, makes no secret of his openly Marxist convictions.
In an article written for AgendaOculta.net, Grabois sustained that the “original accumulation” of riches by the well-to-do classes “comes from some great crime” that “time will never wash away.”12 To him, private wealth is necessarily a fruit of “looting, slavery, thievery, contraband, capital flight, human traffic, usurpation, default, corruption, the embezzlement of public funds….”
And, he adds: “These, and no others, are the methods on the menu of every aspiring bourgeois.”
Among those “aspiring to the bourgeoisie,” he includes workers in the informal economy who, when successful in their efforts, switch ipso facto from self-exploited into exploiters and also join in establishing “peri-[pheral]capitalist systems of accumulation based on exploitation, slavery and the violation of all social rights” of their helpers and partners.
In other words, every private owner is a thief simply for being well-off—this is the old thesis of Marx and Proudhon. Your Holiness will note that such a grossly unilateral simplification and such class hatred for the so-called “bourgeoisie,” private property, free enterprise and the salary system is diametrically opposed to Church thinking and can only lead to “real socialism.”
This is precisely what the ideologue of the Argentine cartoneros proposes: “Building a solidary, austere and non-consumerist people’s economy” that presupposes a definitely socialist and statist “strategic milestone.” Only when the economy is “socialized and planned,”13 he said, will one be able to attain a “society without exploited or exploiters,” which requires “an extremely strong intervention by the State.”14 Such intervention will be multi-faceted and all-encompassing, “regulating, planning, complementing and subsidizing popular production units.”15
This begs the question: How is this model different from a return to the defunct Soviet Union?
Marxist venom in a humanitarian package: behold the basic ideas of this revolutionary lawyer. Yet, Your Holiness invited his cartoneros to come to the podium at Copacabana beach during the Way of the Cross held at the World Youth Day,16 and also granted them a two-hour audience last August, at the Santa Marta Residence, in the Vatican.17
Here is my filial and respectful question: Do these gestures by Your Holiness signal support for the roadmap drawn by ideologue Juan Grabois?
7. Marx’s Anticapitalist Lucubrations Reverberate Inside Vatican Walls
Naturally, Mr. Grabois eagerly used his inaugural tribune at the December 5 seminar to expound his Marxist-based analyses and “explain” to Peter Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and other seminar participants, that Marx was right, but failed to predict all the ruinous developments of capitalism!
Holy Father, I will not abuse Your Holiness’ time by summarizing all of Grabois’ talk, titled Exclusion Capitalism, Social Peripheries and Popular Movements.18 I will only note that he takes up once again the old Marxist clichés on the “structural character of exclusion,” which, as he sees it, “rises from the entrails of the global economic and financial system” as a “consequence of unjust human structures.” He thus deems it necessary to “analyze capitalism in its [globalized] current phase,” as well as “the new social antagonisms that it generates.”
According to this Marxist lawyer, Marx had already broached the subject in Chapter 23 of Capital. However, he continued, Marx failed to foresee that in the globalized world a growing segment of the population would be left out of the formal production process, constituting the “marginal mass” of the “excluded workers” who move to the informal economy in order to survive, and are “the most dynamic social subject in this historical phase.” Friar Betto, quoted by Grabois, calls workers in this sector, the “poortariat” [sic]!
8. MST and Via Campesina, Paradigms of the New “Poortariat” that Wields “Direct Action” as a Liberation Tool
These informal workers are supposedly driven by an aspiration for “a world without exploitation of man by man, in which each man receives according to his need and contributes according to his ability” (a well-known Marxist principle). In other words, all workers are potential communists and pure utopian Marxists even if not explicitly! It is hard to understand, Holy Father, that this clamorous untruth—which would be laughable were it not ominous—has been preached inside the walls of Vatican City.
In his talk, Grabois takes up the old Marxist “oppressor-oppressed” refrain to claim that a new proletariat is now emerging and is ready for rebellion, one made up of “the twenty-first century’s shirtless, unemployed, cardboard collectors, peasants, migrants, street peddlers, homeless, landless, jobless.”
This poortariat presents itself with new forms of organization and action, Grabois claims, pointing out “different forms of direct action,” a euphemism created by French anarchist union members in the 20th century to designate illegality and violence. The pretext on which “direct action” is now employed is that industry workers “can use the strike as their main tool, [whereas] excluded workers can only make themselves heard through pickets, mobilization and other struggle forms that are usually criminalized.”
As paradigms of that “direct action,” the cartonero activist mentions precisely the movements invited by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to participate in the seminar it sponsored: Argentina’s Excluded Workers Movement (MTE) represented by Juan Grabois himself, and Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST), represented by J.P. Stédile, which “is part of Via Campesina, with more than 100 organizations throughout the world.” Via Campesina is headquartered in Indonesia.
9. Apology of a New, Collectivist and Egalitarian Society
The most incredible of all in his hard-hitting talk is that Mr. Grabois insists on the fact that, although in the popular informal economy “the necessary means of production are within the reach of popular sectors,” this does not lead them to “collectively exploit” and hence to generate “horizontal social relations.” In short, it does not lead to a communist regime.
So it is necessary to have the “people’s power”—new Soviets—control the informal economy as well. This would give rise to “a new society” which, as is easily perceived, is nothing but sheer communism.
Moreover, if MST-controlled land reform settlements are the model for this “new society,” it is well to recall what Miguel Stédile (son of J.P. Stédile), of MST’s national coordination, declared to Época magazine (n° 268, July 2003): “We want the socialization of the means of production. We will adapt the Cuban and Soviet experiments to Brazil.”19
Your Holiness, as a Catholic and a Brazilian, I find it inexplicable that, with Mr. Grabois’ talk, an apology of communism—an ideology anchored in class struggle and the rejection of private property—resonated within the sacred walls of Vatican City 76 years after Pope Pius XI condemned that unnatural system as “intrinsically perverse.”20
10. In addition to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Stédile and Grabois Place their Hopes in the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
It is no less perplexing that, the day after his talk, Grabois was invited by Your Holiness for a private audience, during which you recorded the above-mentioned video greeting to La Via Campesina, and a second one promoting the Excluded Workers Movement, founded and directed by a convinced neo-Marxist activist.
It is therefore understandable that in a joint communiqué21 widely spread by the media, Via Campesina, MST and MTE hastened to broadcast these developments as “an unprecedented event.” The communiqué insists that the “activity was coordinated by the Chancelor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, at the request of [Pope] Francis himself.”
The communiqué emphasizes that, “once the journey was over, Stédile and Grabois held a long meeting with Cardinal Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, during which they exchanged opinions on different social issues and discussed alternatives for continuing the dialogue between the Church and popular movements.”
MST and MTE hope to draw countless advantages from these meetings with prelates of the Roman Curia. In an interview with Vatican Radio22 Grabois stated: “We must globalize the struggle… And I believe that in this area the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, with someone like Cardinal Turkson, will also give us a hand.” He believes that, “although it may seem a bit strange,” the Pontifical Academy of Sciences “in its turn is also disposed to go along with our demands, positions, fights, including the strengthening of organizational processes. Always in an ambience of dialogue, peace, conviviality, and respect for institutions.”
Regarding the promises of peace and respect for institutions, at least as far as the MST is concerned, I feel entitled to call them a crafty subterfuge to better obtain the Holy See’s support.
But if the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has really committed itself to help strengthen the organizational processes of the so-called “social movements” as the MST and MTE leaders claim, it is no wonder that their joint communiqué affirms that both movements share a “renewed sensation” of having received “an important support in their fight,” and that “a new stage is opening for the global unity of the popular movement.” It is as if they were saying: now is the time when we can turn Marx and Engels’ call of “Proletarians of the world, unite!” into reality.
This “new stage” is certainly not a good omen for the rule of law and the much-trumpeted democracy in our countries. For, as the said MST and MTE joint communiqué states, “formal or bourgeois democracy has failed. Forms of representation are in crisis and do not correspond to the interests of peoples…. There is an urgent need to develop new forms of popular participation in the three [branches of] power and new forms of political representation throughout the world. A democracy which, in addition to being formal, is real.”
In other words, the MST-MTE duo proposes the “people’s democracy” currently in vogue in Cuba or in Chaves’ Venezuela: a de facto dictatorship that is all the more dangerous since these “social movements” seek to gag the free press: “Building a democracy requires democratizing, in the first place, the means of communication,” they euphemistically claim.
11. What Nourishes the Hopes of These Leftist Extremists That They Can Count on the Support of Organizations of the Holy See?
I cannot fail to ask, Holy Father, with profound apprehension and even affliction: what is it that nourishes the hopes of these leftist extremists that they can count on the support of organizations of the Holy See in the execution of their revolutionary and dictatorial designs?
Everything seems to indicate that they take for granted a change in the Holy See’s doctrinal orientation. The MST-MTE communiqué notes that “all participants repeatedly referred to the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium,” and to its “categorical and enlightening concepts on the situation of the excluded and on the global economy’s excluding matrix.”
Another indication is that in a January 22 broadcast Vatican Radio itself joined the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the MST’s founding.23 In this regard, the station opened its air waves to Fr. Savio Corinaldesi, a Xaverian missionary for whom the MST is “a light.” Using unusually radical expressions, this priest went so far as to say that the MST is “hated, execrated and combated by those who hate, execrate and combat the people.”He calls on the people to organize: “But to this day a message remains that all of us must heed and put into practice: the people know how to solve their problems and do so when they organize” (my emphasis).
How can one not see in this bizarre Vatican Radio transmission a sad and objectionable sequel to what happened at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences?
12. The Social Question is not Just Economic, but Mainly Moral and Religious
To avoid any misunderstanding, let me state clearly to Your Holiness that I positively do not consider the present-day globalized hyper-capitalism as an economic panacea; and that, as a Catholic, I deplore, among other grave defects of the current world economy, the fact that the basic benefits of material progress have still not reached many segments of the global population. But this is not just an economic question.
Leo XIII taught that the so-called social question is principally a moral and religious one. The Pontiff stated: “It is the opinion of some, and the error is already very common, that the social question is merely an economic one, whereas in point of fact it is, above all, a moral and religious matter, and for that reason must be settled by the principles of morality and according to the dictates of religion.”24
Thus, a successful intervention by the ecclesiastical hierarchy in the social and economic sphere should start with a denunciation of the two vices at the origin of all modern disorders and revolutions: pride and sensuality.25
These vices feed the two seemingly opposed errors of our time: collectivist utopianism and individualist liberalism. On the one hand they generate the anarchic-egalitarian dream of a society without government, classes or laws; and, on the other, they are the root of modern liberalism, which rejects all references to an objective truth, absolute values, a higher law, and thus leads to the “dictatorship of relativism” so timely denounced by then Cardinal Ratzinger.26
Thus, in its very essence, the anthropological crisis humanity is going through results not only from a violation of man’s fundamental rights but from a denial of God’s primacy in the organization of human society. All the rest is a mere consequence.
13. Restoring Christian Civilization
Today’s secularist society despises the goods of the soul. This mentality penetrated the West like a poison starting with a rejection of the sacral order in force in Christendom, a time when, in the luminous words of Leo XIII, “the philosophy of the Gospel governed the states. In that epoch, the influence of Christian wisdom and its divine virtue permeated the laws, institutions, and customs of the peoples, all categories and all relations of civil society.”27
Likewise, according to the teachings of Saint Pius X, a true return to order in human society supposes the restoration of all things in Christ— the beautiful motto of his pontificate: Instaurare omnia in Christo (Eph. 1:10) — and a resumption of the Christian ideal of society which he masterfully enunciated. Facing the rife “social and intellectual anarchy” in the early years of the 20th century, the saintly Pontiff pointed to the true way out: “The City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be set up unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants.”28
Regarding the uplifting and regeneration of working classes, Saint Pius X insisted that “the principles of Catholic doctrine have been defined” and, quoting Leo XIII, he underlined the need to “preserve the diversity of classes which is assuredly the attribute of a soundly constituted State, and it must seek to give human society the form and character which God, its Author, has imparted to it”29 (my emphasis).
At the same time, that great Pontiff denounced the wickedness of seeking “the suppression of classes and their leveling down”—as the MST and MTE do—and of changing the natural and traditional bases of human society on the promise of “a Future City built on different principles”30 and particularly those of egalitarianism.
14. The Poor Reject Revolutionary Preaching and Long for the True Order
Therefore, solving the present economic crisis and reducing poverty in the world will not be accomplished by “environmentalist” and neo-Marxist Altermondialista programs advocated by the so-called “social movements.”
If the problem is the emergence of the excluded, then Cuba is precisely the counter-model to be avoided at all costs, lest the whole world be turned into a society of really excluded miserable ones: excluded from well-being, political life, culture, the freedom to travel, and, above all, from the free and unhindered practice of the Catholic Faith on the island-prison.
The poor want nothing to do with such a nightmare. And for this reason they do not allow themselves to be taken in by the day-dreams of the MST or MTE no matter how much they cloak their revolutionary preaching in the fake Christian trappings of clearly Marxist-oriented Liberation Theology.
A highly significant 2009 survey by Brazil’s Ibope polling institute31 showed that 92% of the Brazilian population deem land invasions by the MST illegal, and 72% of those polled believe that police should be employed to enforce court orders to evict invaders. More than 70% of the interviewed believe that the MST harms social and economic development, job creation and domestic and foreign investment. Even more significantly, 85% of Brazilians believe the right to private property is essential to the country, clearly showing that the people reject communism and its misery.
Your Holiness, leftist demagogy can find resonance in the staffs of certain newspapers and TV stations, in academic circles, the nomenklatura of political parties…and even—how it pains to say it—in certain ecclesiastical ambiences; but it is unable to deceive a majority of the people, who are increasingly distancing themselves from it.
15. The Resounding Fiasco of Land Reform: It Hurts the Poor Instead of Helping Them
As proof of this, movements imbued with these revolutionary ideas have always demanded the establishment of a radical land reform that eliminated large and medium-sized properties and reduced the whole rural landscape of a nation into small plots that would not even be the property of their occupants, but of state-run cooperatives.
Now then, despite huge propaganda campaigns for land reform and the gargantuan sums spent to carry it out, land reform in Brazil has failed. The economic and social situation in the land reform settlements is so serious that even government ministers recognize that most of them have become “rural slums.” A belated acknowledgement, since the expression had been coined many years before by Prof. Plínio Corrêa de Oliveira in his continuous struggle to alert Brazilians to that inevitable outcome. Yes, inevitable because everything that opposes the natural order sooner or later ends in disaster. This is why the French say: Chassez le naturel, il revient au galop (Chase away the natural, and it returns at a gallop).
It was not for lack of warning. From the early fifties, Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira noted that revolutionary propaganda was pining for land reform, which was the object of two legislative bills at the end of that decade. For this reason, in 1960, he wrote and published the book, Agrarian Reform, a Question of Conscience, in which he prophesied land reform would end in a fiasco. That was the initial milestone in a struggle that saw the publication of many books, manifestos and statements, as well as public campaigns and petitions over the next forty years, until his death in 1995.
Today, competent scholars and professionals expound on the failure of land reform. A few days ago, Prof. Zander Navarro of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, in an article published in a large paper of São Paulo,32 when describing the rural exodus taking place across Brazil, from North to South, wrote: “And there are the settlers, who should be significant. After all, they represent 1.25 million families in 8,800 settlements, occupying 217.5 million acres, almost the equivalent to the total area of [the State of] Mato Grosso. But agrarian reform is a resounding failure: a large part of its beneficiaries has given up, leaving the settlements half-empty, especially from the country’s middle ‘upward,’ above all in the northeast and north.”
While the land reform settlements created on the cusp of that agrarian agitation produce nothing and live off alms from the State, a competent specialist of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation—(Embrapa)33 observes that technology has helped small, medium-sized and large farmers and adds, “Brazil’s agricultural production feeds 1 billion people.”34 Another study notes that “the price of a [basic] food basket has dropped by half between 1975 and 2010,”35 which explains the fact that “in the 1970’s the average Brazilian family spent about 40% of the family income on food. At present this figure is less than 16%.”36
16. Quo Vadis, Domine?
Acting with calculated prudence, Your Holiness gradually defines the directions of your pontificate. It is only natural that the faithful attentively follow the steps being taken in this sense.
Facing the inevitable perplexities that every change naturally produces, it is understandable that many will ask, deep in their hearts, the question that, as legend has it, Saint Peter himself asked when, fleeing Nero’s persecution, he met Our Lord Jesus Christ walking in the opposite direction: Quo vadis, Domine?—Whither goest Thou, Lord?
Upon hearing Our Lord’s answer that He was going to Rome to be crucified again, Saint Peter understood that the moment for his own martyrdom had come. And he thus subjected himself to the torture with great humility, asking the executioners—according to a pious tradition— to crucify him upside down because he did not deem himself worthy of suffering a death like Christ’s in all its details.
Thus, in view of all the facts described at length above, and of the perplexities that they raise, a Catholic faithful could come to address Your Holiness the same question—Quo vadis, Domine?
Would it be legitimate to do so? Under what conditions?
The Code of Canon Law, in canon 212, § 3, enshrines the full right of every Catholic to respectfully expound his opinion on this or other matters:
“Can. 212 §3. They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ’s faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.”
I do so therefore, in this REVERENT AND FILIAL MESSAGE, certain that Your Holiness will receive this manifestation with paternal benevolence and as a loyal contribution to the success of your lofty mission in the government of Holy Mother Church.
* * *
Reaffirming my unrestricted and loving obedience not just to the Church, but to you as the Pope, in the full extent prescribed by Catholic doctrine, I ask Our Lady Aparecida, Queen and Patroness of Brazil, to enlighten Your Holiness and help all Latin American Catholics to remain fortes in fide, strong in their Catholic convictions and in their rejection of leftwing extremism, so that this Land of the Holy Cross (Brazil) continues to be more and more, along with her sister nations in Spanish America, the Continent of Hope, under the blessings of Our Lady of Guadalupe, their beloved patroness.
Kissing the Fisherman’s Ring,
I humbly request the Apostolic Blessing,
In Jesu et Maria,
Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza
São Paulo, February 8, 2014
English translation by the American TFP.
This article may be reproduced with proper attribution to TFP.org
- The Paz no Campo (Peace in the Countryside) campaign has become well-known in Brazil for defending the principles of private property and free enterprise contained in the documents of the traditional Magisterium of the Church.
- http://www.feedfood.com.br/agronegocio-corresponde-37-dos-empregos-gerados-no-pais/: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://exame.abril.com.br/economia/noticias/recorde-de-exportacoes-no-agronegocio-aumenta-demanda-por-profissionais: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.adistaonline.it/?op=articolo&id=53494: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.wsftv.net/Members/focuspuller/videos/joao-pedro-stedile-1/view: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://leonardoboff.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/os-movimentos-populares-latino-americanos-junto-ao-papa-francisco/: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.uel.br/grupo-pesquisa/gepal/anais_ivsimp/gt7/15_mairakubik.pdf: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.mst.org.br/: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.old.pernambuco.com/ultimas/noticia.asp?materia=2008610133246: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/1995/march/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19950321_brasile-ad-limina_po.html: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2002/november/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20021126_brazil-sul-iii-iv_po.html: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.agendaoculta.net/2012/08/el-capitalismo-de-exclusion-y-la.html: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.cartoneando.org.ar/content/capitalismo-popular-una-variante-salvaje-del-modelo-por-juan-grabois: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.economiapopular.coop/juan-grabois: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://mareapopular.org/revista/agremiando-la-precarizacion-laboral/: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.telam.com.ar/notas/201307/26546-el-papa-mando-a-buscar-a-35-cartoneros-argentinos-entre-un-millon-de-peregrinos.html: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.noticiasdiaxdia.com.ar/noticias/val/6869-43/-carta-al-evita-desde-el-vaticano-por-juangrabois.html#.UtMMcvSICSp: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://www.casinapioiv.va/content/dam/accademia/pdf/sv123/sv123-grabois.pdf: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://revistaepoca.globo.com/Epoca/0,6993,EPT564366-1653-5,00.html: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- Encyclical Letter Divini Redemptoris, Mar. 19, 1937, no. 58.
- http://www.cartamaior.com.br/?/Editoria/Movimentos-Sociais/Os-movimentos-populares-latino-americanos-junto-ao-Papa-Francisco/2/29947: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://media01.radiovaticana.va/audiomp3/00404088.MP3: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- http://it.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/01/22/brasile:_compie_30_anni_il_movimento_%E2%80%9Csem_terra%E2%80%9D/it1-766279: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- Encyclical Graves de communi, Jan. 18, 1901.
- Cf. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, Part I, chap. 7:3 @ http://www.tfp.org/tfp-home/books/revolution-and-counter-revolution.html: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- Cardinal Ratzinger said: “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires” (Homily at the Mass Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice, Apr. 18, 2005 — http://www.vatican.va/gpII/documents/homily-pro-eligendo-pontifice_20050418_po.html: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- Encyclical Immortale Dei, Nov. 1, 1885.
- Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique, Aug. 25, 1910, no. 11 http://agnusdei.50webs.com/notrech2.htm: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- Ibid., no. 9
- Ibid., nos. 9 & 10
- http://www.estadao.com.br/noticias/nacional,ibopecna-92-condenam-ocupacoes-do-mst,485449,0.htm: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- O Estado de S. Paulo, Jan. 22, 2014.
- Evaristo Eduardo de Miranda, doctor in Ecology, responsible for Embrapa’s satellite monitoring.
- http://www.iica.int/Esp/regiones/sur/brasil/Lists/Noticias/DispForm.aspx?ID=634: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- Notícias Agroinvvesti, Jun. 17, 2011, Cleber Bordignon, Agronegócio, um mundo de oportunidades http://www.agroinvvesti.com.br/?menu=noticias&id=907: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.
- Notícias CNA, Nov. 2, 2011, Brasil e EUA: grandes potências para alimentar o mundo http://www.canaldoprodutor.com.br/comunicacao/noticias/brasil-e-eua-grandes-potencias-para-alimentar-o-mundo: accessed on Feb. 14, 2014.