well as the more general comments of Church and CPT leaders thus suggests that the role of Church leaders, past and present, has been one of consciousness-raising, whereas groups like the CPT have been responsible for the direct action that takes place.
Finally, although this topic has been touched on previously, it is worth commenting specifically on the generational question raised by interviewees. To review, many older leaders—in the Church, the CPT, and Copservicos—show regret for the changes the Church has undergone, and speak fondly of the time when Church support was deep, movements were strong, and liberation theology was the big news of the day. They also mention concern for the fact that leaders in the Church today are not being formed with the same social consciousness. However, the two youngest people interviewed—one CPT staff member, and the MST leader—were the interviewees who seemed most convinced of the continued progress of their respective organizations, and least concerned about the effect of Church changes on their ability to change society at large. As mentioned above, it was actually the young CPT worker who said most clearly that faith remains an important thing for the people doing his kind of work. Unfortunately, this study did not include interviews with the younger generation of priests. It is possible that interviewing young priests would have shown a significant lack of commitment to working on social issues. But at least for the realm of organizations doing direct action on social issues, we can say the following: while there may be some concern in the older generation of political organizers in this region that future generations will not be as committed to social causes or as powerful in working on them, this study suggests they need not worry, for the younger generation is cogent of the problems and committed to the cause.
7. Conclusions, Further Thoughts, and Recommendations for Next Research
This study indicates a few basic themes about the state of faith-based social organizing, specific to the south of Pará in this era. Despite changes in the Catholic Church internationally, nationally, and locally that have lessened the focus on social issues and turned towards a more individualistic form of spirituality, liberation theology continues to play a role in the work of social movements. As a theory, liberation theology informs the decisions and actions of some remaining progressive Church officials, as well as the work of pastoral agents in organizations like the Comissão Pastoral da Terra. These individuals, who are motivated in part because of their interpretation of Christian values, engage in the practice of liberation theology in diverse ways. Church officials continue to work on raising the political consciousness of poor communities, and CPT workers continue to support community groups, unions, and larger organizations in gaining land and other rights that have been denied or taken from Brazil’s poor. The CPT also publicizes offenses to human rights, in this region and elsewhere in Brazil.
However, the cumulative power of these individuals and organizations appears to have changed for the
weaker, largely due to the loss of hierarchical Church support for working with social movements. This Sharp 19