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Befreiungstheologe Frei Betto, Sao Paulo: “Guiding Star”

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She is a sweet, gentle, charming person and, as the words of the unofficial hymn of Minas Gerais say, those who know her will never forget her. She is the bearer of good news, she always sees the positive side of people and situations.

Filled with compassion and mercy, she exudes tolerance and nothing human shocks her.   

If bitterness ever entered her soul we shall never know. ”Joy and not pain is to be shared she often says.

Her deceased husband Antonio Carlos Vieira Christo with whom she lived for more than 60 years used to say that she was the ideal candidate for Foreign Minister because of her talent for seeing similarity where antagonism reigns; closeness where distance exists and for announcing good news where discord dominates.

She was born in Belo Horizonte in 1917, the eldest of ten children, most of whom are still alive. Her father was an eminent pharmacist and she was gifted with the cooking of appetizing foods. She attended the Baráo de Rio Branco school where, later, her eight children studied, she had a happy childhood on the same street where her first children were born and where, by coincidence, she lives today: Tomé de Souza. The dances of her youth gave her a taste for the Argentine tango but did not alter her enthusiasm for carnival. She graduated as a teacher from the Sacré Coeur de Marie College and became active in Catholic Action and, by divine intervention, a progressive avant la lettre Christian, free from moralism and the smell of incense. In her young days she was familiar with the works of Bernanos, Claudel, Maritain, Leonel Franca and Alceu Amoroso Lima who later became her friend. She lived in Rio de Janeiro until her husband signed the Manifesto dos Mineiros and President Getulio Vargas obliged him to return to Minas Gerais. While pregnant with her first child, the writer of this article, she attended a conference in Rio given by Friar Pedro Secondi where she prayed that God would give her a Dominican son¦ Unable to work outside the home and busy with the education of her children, she took up cooking though she never gave up her Catholic Action activities, in which she is still involved. She never misses Sunday mass, even if on television, she likes to pray the rosary but never invite her to a spiritual retreat, she hates the silence of the cloister. If her husband was a Municipal Theatre person, she herself is a samba school person¦ At 60 years of age she travelled around Minas Gerais visiting people and places of every walk of life collecting old and greasy recipe books and, combining hunger and the desire for food, she initiated, with her classic Fogáo de Lenha “ 300 anos de cozinha mineira (The Wood Stove “ 300 years of Minas cooking), a successful literary career which today has been augmented by eight works on the delights of our country™s tastes and lore. She became well known, gave cooking lessons to women who swept the streets and to executives, she travelled all over Brazil and several other countries participating in gourmet festivals. She cooked for heads of state like Fidel and Raul Castro, for Brazilian celebrities like Sobral Pinto, Chico Buarque, Raduan Nassar, Leonardo Boff, Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns, Roberto Drummond, Lula and Joáo Pedro Stédile. From the mountainous Alterosas in Minas Gerais to Moscow she carried the ingredients for a complete feijoada[1] <#_ftn1> which Brazilian diplomats and Soviet authorities enjoyed during the period of perestroika.
She is a curious person and though she never talks about herself, she is interested in every detail of what goes on around her. Grandmother to 16 and great grandmother to 8, she talks to every one as an equal and never has a piece of crystal or porcelain in her visitors™ parlour been broken by children. An avid reader, she prefers fiction, historical novels and good theology as well as reading the daily papers. Her body ignores cholesterol which allows her to enjoy, with no threat to her figure or her health, from feijáo tropeiro to the most varied sweet desserts. Four mornings a week she practices swimming and exercises on the bicycle. Her name is Maria Stella Libanio Christo, my guiding star. I do not have an Oedipus complex for I am it.  She celebrates her 90th birthday today.

Happy Birthday, Mother.

 [1] <#_ftnref1>  Feijoada “ typical Brazilian dish made from black  beans cooked with various parts of a pig and served with rice.

*Frei Betto is a writer and author, in partnership with Maria Stella Libanio Christo, of ”Saborosa viagem pelo Brasil (A Tasty Tour Around Brazil) (Mercuryo Jovem).

About the Author

He is a Brazilian Dominican with an international reputation as a liberation theologian.
Within Brazil he is equally famous as a writer, with over 52 books to his name.  In 1985 he won Brazil™s most important literary prize, the Jabuti, and was elected Intellectual of the Year by the members of the Brazilian Writers™ Union. Frei Betto has always been active in Brazilian social movements, and has been an adviser to the Church™s ministry to workers in Sáo Paulo™s industrial belt, to the Church base communities, and to the Landless Rural Workers™ Movement (MST).In 2003-2004, he was Special Adviser to President Lula and Coordinator of Social Mobilisation for the Brazilian Government™s Zero Hunger programme.


Dieser Beitrag wurde am Donnerstag, 27. März 2008 um 02:58 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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