Hélder Câmara was born in 1907 in north-eastern Brazil and served as Archbishop of Olinda and Recife.
As a young priest he had been interested in the nationalist/ fascist movement Integralismo, but later rejected these ideologies becoming concerned with social justice, the plight of the poor, and availably of education in his region.
He became known as the ‘Bishop of the Slums’ for his work with urban poor and encouraging people to seek social justice inspired by their faith. He became an archbishop in 1963 the same year as a military dictatorship took power in Brazil.
Câmara championed human rights and democracy in the face of threats to his life, and became a ‘nonperson’; the media in Brazil were not permitted to mention his name. He participated in all four sessions of Vatican II, and in 1965 led 42 bishops in signing the ‘Pact of the Catacombs’; where they committed to living lifestyles consistent with the poorest of their parishioners, and rejecting all signs of material wealth or social privilege.
More than 500 bishops signed the pact in the following months. Archbishop Câmara was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, however this was blocked due to pressure from Brazil’s military dictatorship.
He died on 27th August 1999.
In 2015 the Vatican declared nihil obstat (no obstacles) and his cause for canonisation is now open.