They Killed Sister Dorothy

25 March 08 | Posted in Arts and Letters, Global Catholic, Stewardship

Last night I attended a private screening of “They Killed Sister Dorothy,” a documentary about Sister Dorothy Stang, S.N.D., an environmental activist who was murdered in Brazil in 2005. She began her ministry there in 1966.accent_stang.jpg

A citizen of Brazil and the United States, Sr. Dorothy worked with the Pastoral Land Commission, an organization of the Catholic Church that fights for the rights of rural workers and peasants, and defends land reforms in Brazil. Her death came less than a week after meeting with the country’s human rights officials about threats to local farmers from loggers and ranchers.

After receiving several death threats, Sr. Dorothy commented, “I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.”

The film’s producers are outreaching to Catholic groups, environmentalists like the Rainforest Alliance, and other socially-minded people and organizations who want to support the poor in finding sustainable  livelihoods.

I found the film very timely, with a growing interest by Catholics around the world in environmental protection, and the ways its abuses fall disproportionally hard on the poor and marginalized.

2 Responses to “They Killed Sister Dorothy”

  1. david stang Says:

    Thank you for your interest in this great woman. The story of Dorothy continues. May 1st Brazilian Film Producers in Belem Brazil will show a 15 minute short film about Dorothy and the many causes she supported, to help the poor and to save the great Amazon Rainforest. Then on May 5th the retrial of Bida who paid for my sister’s murder will take place. Several days before Easter the Brazilian Justice System lets some prisoners go home for the holidays. This time the defense lawyers of Tato and Clodoaldo who had just rececently been sentenced for murdering Dorothy were going to be released for the holidays and of course many prisoners then just disappear. Truly, this would have been a travesty of justice. The people of Belem when they found out called up every TV station in the city. The judge retracted the release. This film “They Killed Sister Dorothy” will clearly show the problems of the judicial syster in the Amazon. Any show of support for my great sister will be greatly appreciated. Dorothy was murdered saying, “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When Dorothy fell to the earth, she fell to the earth that she loved with all her heart, an earth that our Father and Mother taught all of us from a very early age to enjoy, protect,love and preserve.
    David Stang

  2. Katherine C Says:

    I felt fortunate to learn of this magnificent work about Sister Dorthy. The film was excellent and showed many aspects of the Brazilian government and judicial system that continues to struggle with corruption and power of the elite. I recently returned from Brazil, and I’d like to say one thing about our reactions and attempt to help preserve as Dorthy fought so hard to do. We must make sure that our actions here from North America are viewed as helping the people there and not out of our own interests. The Brazilians already believe that the U.S. is a big bully that will come in and buy up all their forest and fresh water as we please. The fight Sister Dorthy died for was for the poor, and the forest that so desperately needs to be preserved, but she did not come a part of the U.S. government or large organizations. We need to continue to ensure that the land is preserved in harmony with the people who live off of its rich soil and biodiversity. If we bring in large American organizations, like The Nature Conservancy and so on, I fear the retaliation of the people there will be greater than one life. They will fight till their death and the death of the Amazon to keep the land in names of Brazilians. We must not buy it away, but give these people power to remain in and preserve the forest like Dorthy did and the PDS and other Brazilian organizations continue to work towards achieving.
    Indeed, as David said: protect, preserve and love.
    Katherine C.

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