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years ago and now helps run a cooperative organization, Copserviços, providing technical assistance to farmers in the region of Marabá. Copserviços, while not religiously affiliated, holds many of the same practical goals as the CPT in terms of helping small farmers and agricultural workers maintain a productive and autonomous lifestyle. These individuals were chosen on the basis of their ability to explain the past and present ideologies, work, and strategic goals of the entities they represent. In the case of the STR and MST leaders and the progressive Church workers, I was connected to them by way of the CPT. CPT leaders were able to explain what methods they have used in supporting landless movements in the past and today, and talking to leaders of these movements revealed not only how they have changed, but also their perspective on religious relevance today. Finally, it was important to get the perspective of current Church leaders, to understand how those who maintain progressive ideas today understand their mission and context within the current milieu. The staff member from Copserviços, given his past as a member of the Church and his longtime experience in Marabá, was able to give perspective on changes in the Church as well as development in the Marabá region in general.

The study thus used primary data collection in the form of interviews and observations, and secondary data collection through the books, pamphlets, and documents available in the CPT office and the SIT library. Most data collected from secondary sources can be found in the Introduction and Extended Background sections of this paper, whereas the primary data is presented in the Results section.

As this is an exploratory study geared more toward understanding organizer perspectives on social movements rather than on quantitatively evaluating the work of such movements, the results cannot be seen as a final judgment or statement about the movements they discuss. Rather, they show a different kind of truth— the state of social justice activism in this region as seen by some of those people most directly involved with it.

4. Extended Background Information

The historical interconnections between the Catholic Church, the CPT, liberation theology, and agrarian reform movements in Brazil have already been described above. This section gives further attention these relationships, and defines important ideas that informed and were used in the research process.

  • The progressive Catholic Church and the development of liberation theology

Liberation theology’s inception in the Catholic Church can be traced to two international events—the Second Vatican Council, held in Rome from 1962-65, and the meeting of the Latin American Bishops’ Conference (CELAM) in Medellín, Colómbia, in 1968. At these events, and in the published documents that

preceded and followed them, bishops from across Latin America discussed the poverty and repression they saw in their parishes and their growing sense that the Church had a duty to respond do socioeconomic

injustice. This change in attitude about the nature of Church duty led many priests and Church workers to Sharp


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