Cardinal Arns: defender of the oppressed, and CAFOD partner, dies
16 December 2016
On 14 December Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns died at the age of 95. He was the oldest surviving Cardinal and a prophetic voice in the Church. He championed the preferential option for the poor and the defence of human dignity and put these values into practice throughout his three decades as Archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil - the largest Catholic diocese in the world.
CAFOD worked closely with Cardinal Arns and the social outreach programmes of his Archdiocese throughout the years of dictatorship in Brazil and we continue to this day to support programmes that were established under his leadership.
Clare Dixon, head of CAFOD’s Latin America and Caribbean Team, recalls, “Cardinal Arns was CAFOD’s first Pope Paul VI lecturer in 1987, speaking on debt cancellation and he was the first Church leader on the world stage to place the cause of international debt and the care of people with HIV and AIDS at the centre of his agenda.”
Cecilia Iorio, CAFOD’s Brazil Country Representative and Kezia Lavan, Brazil Programme Officer, are currently in São Paulo. They report,
“Dom Paulo’s numerous actions to defend the poor and democracy during the most difficult times of the dictatorship leave a lasting legacy; in particular, the sale of the bishop’s palace in order to fund more than 1000 community centres in poor neighbourhoods on the periphery of São Paulo. His requiem mass in Sé Cathedral was filled with ordinary women and men and children who benefitted from his actions.”