A tribute to the late Amazonian bishop Pedro Casaldáliga

By Br Mark O'Connor FMS, 13 August 2020
A file image of the late Amazonian bishop Pedro Casaldáliga. Image: JM Concepcion/Casaldàliga-Causas.org/Wikimedia Commons.


The prophetic Pedro Casaldáliga, bishop emeritus of the Amazonian diocese of São Félix do Araguaia, Brazil, died 8 August, aged 92.

“At the end of the road they will tell me: Have you lived? Have you loved? And I, without saying anything, will open my heart full of names …” – Pedro Casaldáliga’s Twitter account on 4 August.


Pope Francis is living out his famous poem in front of our eyes.

Here is an English translation of the poem:



Leave the Curia, Peter,

disassemble the Sanhedrin and the walls,

order all the impeccable scrolls to be changed

to words of life and love.


Let us go to the garden of the banana plantations,

undercover and by night, at any risk,

for there, the Master sweats the blood of the poor.


The tunic/vestment is this humble disfigured flesh,

so many cries of children unanswered,

and memories embroidered with the anonymous dead.


A legion of mercenaries besieges the frontier of the rising dawn

and Caesar blesses them in his arrogance.

In the tidy bowl, Pilate, legalistic and cowardly, washes himself.


The people are just a “remnant”,

a remnant of hope.

Leave them not alone among the guards and princes.

It’s time to sweat with His agony,

It’s time to drink the chalice of the poor,

lift the cross, devoid of certainties,

shatter the building — law and seal — of the Roman tomb,

and wake up to



Tell them, tell us all

that the grotto of Bethlehem,

the Beatitudes,

and the judgement of love as food,

remain in force and steadfast.


Be no longer troubled!


As you love Him,

love us,


as an equal, brother.


Give us, with your smiles, your new tears

the fish of joy,

the bread of the word,

roses of embers …

… the clarity of the untrammeled horizon,

the Sea of Galilee,

ecumenically open to the world.

– Bishop Emeritus Pedro Casaldáliga.


Br Mark O’Connor FMS is the Vicar for Communications in the Diocese of Parramatta.


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