“when in doubt, side with the poor”

pope francis quoted him in his exhortation “querida amazonia”. his life and presence witnessed the Good News of the beatitude “blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of God”. his death is a loss for the world that struggles against injustice– especially for our indigenous brothers and sisters.

pedro casaldaliga– claretian and bishop– is a gift from God who has inspired countless millions of people. he will be greatly missed

i first read his writings and poetry in 1986. and have been blessed ever since. he loved the people he served. in turn, he took to task those who exploited those he loved. his words cut to the core and bit with a ferocity.

“when in doubt, side with the poor” was a famous axiom of casaldaliga. i want to live by this gospel principle

here is his poem “deixa a curia, pedro!”

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.

rest in peace pedro my brother. pray for us– especially claretians– that we may continue to courageously love. when in doubt, may we side with those who are poor

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