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Frei Betto

The Political-Pastoral Work of a Dominican Friar in Brazil and Beyond

In the Series
The Portuguese-Speaking World: Its History, Politics and Culture

Américo Oscar Guichard Freire, associate professor and researcher at the Center for Research and Documentation of Contemporary History of Brazil (CPDOC) of the Getulio Vargas Foundation.

Evanize Martins Sydow, author of the biography of Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns and curator of the exhibition “Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns ,95 Years.” Dr Sydow also coordinates a project on solidarity networks during military dictatorships in Latin America (Caritas Brasileira).

The Biography includes a Preface by Cuban Commander Fidel Castro

Frei Bettoo’s roles as a revolutionary Christian, popular educator, social movement articulator, and journalist/writer provide insight into the political and religious history not only of Brazil, but of Cuba and former socialist countries of Eastern Europe. His lifepath is one of engagement with the revolutionary struggle against the Brazilian military dictatorship in favor of social transformation. His arrest in 1969 for coordinating the safe departure of political militants from Brazil, and his concern to eliminate hunger and suffering from the poorer classes, were strong credentials as he promoted dialogue between political bodies, the religious establishment and the population at large.

Strongly influenced by the propositions of Liberation Theology, a defining thread of its activities was to seek an understanding, an accommodation, between Christianity and socialism. Friar Betto maintained close relations with former Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolutionary government, and wrote about how the internal dynamics of the Cuban religious universe could be applied to other countries and to different political circumstances. His writings on socialist countries, especially Paradise Lost, are aimed at promoting understanding on several levels: between the Church and the communists; between the military and politicians; between religious leaders and the people.

Frei Betto’s biography is an invitation to understand five decades of a personal pursuit of revolutionary ideals through the prism of religious tolerance and the pursuit of socialism. The Portuguese edition was a finalist in the biography section of Jabuti – the prestigious national literary prize granted by the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL).

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78976-050-7
Hardback Price: £80 / $95
Release Date: June 2020
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-051-4
Paperback Price: £35 / $44.95
Release Date: June 2020
Page Extent / Format: 272 pp. 234 x 156 mm
Illustrated: Yes



Preface by Fidel Castro 
Series Editors' Preface  
The Illustrations           


 1        "If Anyone Can Make Me a Christian It is Frei Betto"

 2        From Activism in JEC to Joining the Order of Preachers
            The Apprentice
            The Wanderer

 3        The Duty of Every Revolutionary is to Make the Revolution
            Realidade Magazine
            Teatro Oficina, the temptation
            The Dominicans of ALN
            Folha da Tarde, an incubator for ALN

 4        The Mineiro Terrorist Friar
            São Leopoldo, Safe passage
            Death of Marighella
            The Indignant Father

 5        The Church in Prison
            The Trial
            A New Archbishop
 6        Credit with Freedom
            Impulses of human solidarity

 7        Liberation Theology and the New Church
            The New Latin American Church
            The Multiple Presence in Liberation Theology

 8        Popular Education Networks
            The Church in Movement
            Liberating Education

 9        The Republic of the ABC Paulista
            The ABC strikes and the Workers' Pastoral (PO)
            of São Bernardo do Campo and Diadema
            Pastoral Practice and the Political Party Question
            Lula and the Metalworkers' Union

10        Popular Movements and Lula's Presidential Campaigns
            From Anampos to the Confederation of Popular Movements
            On campaign with Lula and the PT

11        Our America
            Nicaragua: Triumph of the Revolution
            Cuba discovers Betto
            America Libre

12        Mi Casa, Su Casa
            John Paul II and Benedict XVI
            The Solidarity Flight
            Honoris causa

13        Journeys in the Socialist World
            Lech Walesa
            Other Journeys

14        The Prophet and the King
            From Fome Zero to Bolsa Família
            End of Line
            Mosca Azul: Action and Reaction

15        Literary Trajectories
            Memories and Memorials
            Essays: Politics, Faith, and Science
            The Fictional Universe: Novels


16        Activist of the Kingdom
            Writing a Life: Challenges and Options



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