about their work in terms of a faith- or gospel-based need to stand at the side of the poor. Looking at it as a practice means examining the ways in which such Church leaders act on that need, and the methods they choose with which to support the poor. Looking at it as a historical force means evaluating the cumulative effect of these Church leaders on the greater movements for social justice that have arisen alongside and sometimes as a result of their work.
Examined from all three of these perspectives, the results above demonstrate liberation theology maintains an important role in the progress of movements for social change in southern Pará. All of the CPT staff interviewed confirmed that faith is a source of their motivation to work for the CPT and in doing so help support the poor and their rural movements around Marabá. That three of them have a background in progressive sectors of the Church suggests that religious faith was especially important in getting them involved with social movement organizing in the first place. While the youngest CPT worker’s background might suggest that younger generations do not have this same sense of a need to organize based on the demands of the Bible, it was he who spoke most optimistically and confidently of the religious convictions underlying the CPT’s work. The theory of liberation theology—that Christian faith demands support and priority for the poor—thus seems to remain an important part of the way these organizers envision their own work.
Liberation theology also very clearly continues to be practiced in this region. The CPT is an organization dedicated to supporting rural movements for justice, and its organizers work at least in part on the basis of a religious commitment to pastoral work. As long as their work aligns with the goals of the movements themselves and helps improve the lives of the poor in this region, the CPT will be practicing liberation theology.
It is only when looking at the third element of its nature that the relevance of liberation theology, as a concept, becomes questionable for this region and these movements. All of the people interviewed confirmed that the movements will continue to do their work fighting for human and social rights as long as work is there to be done. Those not involved directly with the movements—such as the priest, the nun, and the Copservicos staff member—will continue to support small farmers, urban poor, and other marginalized members of society as long as society continues to marginalize some of its members. However, this conviction on the part of the interviewees is balanced by their own admission that, overall, the movements would be stronger if the Church as an entire institution were to fervently support them, as it did in past decades. This duality of the situation— that Church-supported or religion-based organizing continues, but without the intensity it once had—suggests that liberation theology is no longer the same kind of society-changing innovation that it seems to have signified in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. This analysis is based on both the actual power of religiously-based social action to influence society at large, and the way in which those social actors view their own work. The CPT and Church interviewees evaluated their contribution to social movements as existent, but not as