But the Wind continues
circular letter 2005


There has been a real avalanche of messages of solidarity recently. Some were angry, others worried, and finally, many exuberant. Today, more than ever, I would like to respond personally, message by message, heart to heart. During this time of expectant vigil, many questions and complaints have arisen, about this neoliberal World and about our holy and problematic Church. I bring these questions and anxieties to the Spirit of the One who is “our Peace”. I ask that all of you, whether believers or agnostic, serene or rebelious, men or women, please consider yourselves answered, with great care. Thus we retired bishops lighten our burdens so easily...!
We have received messages of solidarity from many concerning the Xavante people, due to the fact that any resolution of their cause continues deterred by the slowness of our justice system. Another motive of solidarity with our small Church of São Félix do Araguaia has been, obviously, the Episcopal succession. I do not need to go into details, because so much has already been written about the ecclesial incident. We want to insist that the problem was not simply one bishop, one local Church. It is a problem of the whole Church and centers on the call to greater co-responsibility and collegiality in the process of nominating bishops, so that we might be more faithful to Gospel and give witness in the World. Fortunately, the new Bishop of Sao Felix do Araguaia, Friar Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, is a true Franciscan, fraternal, open to dialogue, interested in the people. And the journey continues. I will continue here, on the banks of the Araguaia River, acompanying at a distance the struggles of the people, and savoring, in Pascal hope, the afternoon of life.
The Empire claims it wants “a world without tyranny”. We also; above all without the tyranny of the Empire. And the Empire wants “the propagation of freedom”. We contest indignantly, because this kind of freedom is restricted to the market, and to the economic advantage of a few powerful countries.
There is too much tyranny in all levels of life: social, economic, political and cultural. According to the anual report of the UN, there are still 1.1 billion people who survive on less than US $1.00 a day. Daily 30,000 children continue to die of hunger. In the last 40 years, the gross industrial product of the world has doubled while economic inequality has trippled. 900 million people – one seventh of the world population – suffer ethnic, social or religious discrimination. 44 % of the Latin American population lives in bairros amidst extreme poverty. Africa contines to bleed; its nations either ignored or exploited. There are countries in the world “marked to die”, perhaps by a possible preventative war...
There is howerver, “much good conquering evil” in our wounded World. Once again we held the World Social Forum; the Via Campesina continues to grow and operate; we uncovered the hidden agenda and to a degree delayed the creation of FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas). The Israeli and the Palestinians dialogue over concrete steps; the left raises its head in various countries of our America and in Europe; “unrest” (and protest) “grows before the neoliberal democracy”. Political parties and unions are being demoralized, while the popular movement grows, promoting demonstrations on national, continental and worldwide scales. The Kyoto Protocol is picking up speed. There are more and more of us each time we cry out, with Inácio Ramonet, “yes to solidarity among the 6 billion inhabitants of our planet; no to the G-8 and the “Consensus of Washington”; no to the dominion of the “poker of evil,” (World Bank, IMF, WTO, OECD); no to the military domination of a lone superpower; no to the wars of invasion and no to terrorism...” And we summarize with Ramonet, that “to resist is to say no and also to say yes, to dream that another world is possible and to contribute to building it.”
Another Church is possible also and we, people from many places, are building it in diverse ways. By being community of prayer, communion and commitment. By Brazil’s hosting of the 11th Inter-ecclesial Encounter of the Base Christian Communities and reanimating the Base Christian Communities of Brazil, of the Continent, of the World. By holding the World Social Forum and the World Forum of the Liberation Theology at the same time and place. By celebrating as well the anniversary of the martyrdom of our St. Romero and the memory of all our martyrs who call us to renewed commitment. By deepening our option for the poor and their causes. By propheticaly condemning “social genocides” and the iniquity of the Empire and its oligarquies. By living real and daily ecumenism and engaging in inter-religious dialogue. By encouraging the conciliar process, as a growing Gospel call, and as the best manner of commemorating the 40 years of Vatican II. By living our faith in an adult and co-responsible manner, “for the life of the World.”
And one more ecclesial confidence, from an old bishop who continues to dream. Once again, because of the recent health problems of John Paul II, there is talk and much writing about the profile of the new pope. I think that there should be more, much more, talk about and designing of a new papacy, including a radical re-structuring of what we call the Apostolic See. And a new model for the ministry of Peter: shaped with the heart of Jesus, sensitive to the cries of the poor, the suffering, the helpless; divested of a pontifical state, with a streamlined and service oriented Curia. Stripped of power and pomposity; empassioned by ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, “de-absolutized” and collegial, decentralized and truly “catholic”, through cultural and ministerial pluralism. A religious mediation - in collaboration with other mediations, religious or not – at the service of peace, of justice and life.
During his life, Van Gogh, who had seen many real and symbolic windmills fall, wrote to his brother, Theo, “but the wind continues”. We too, after having seen how many windmills fall, both in society and in the Church, continue on, proclaiming – in Hope and Commitment – that “the Wind continues.”



Pedro Casaldáliga
São Félix do Araguaia, MT, Brasil
February 2005