The murder in 2005 of an American nun, Sister Dorothy Stang, focused the worlds attention on the plight of poor farmers in the Brazilian Amazon and their struggles against rapacious developers. Sister Dorothy had worked in Brazil for forty years. From a conventional nun in the pre-Vatican II era, she had developed a keen social conscience and, increasingly, a deep, mystical commitment to the integrity of Creation. These ideals combined in her advocacy for the rights of the poor and her defense of the imperiled rain forest. They also earned her the enmity of land-grabbing ranchers who repeatedly threatened her. “All I ask,” she wrote, “is Gods grace to help me keep on this journey, fighting for the people to have a more egalitarian life and that we learn to respect Gods creation.”
Roseanne Murphy, SSND, is the author of Julie Billiart: Woman of Courage.