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Saturday, October 22, 2016
CAFOD gravely concerned after priest receives death threats
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¬†Catholic aid agency CAFOD is gravely concerned for the safety of 74-year-old Father Henri des Roziers who is a leading member of the Church's Pastoral Land Commission in the Brazilian state of ParŠ. Gunmen are understood to have been offered 50,000 Brazilian Reais (about £13,700) to kill Father Henri. The Brazilian authorities are providing the softly-spoken Dominican with protection and he is now flanked by armed guards 24-hours a day. Lorna Fielding, a CAFOD Programme Support Officer met Fr Henri recently. She said: "Fr Henri is an amazing man. By standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people from poor, rural communities who have either little or no right to land or access to justice, he is taking a huge risk. "CAFOD is gravely concerned about his safety but he is more worried about how the death threats are affecting his work ≠ his visits to settlements and encampments are now more limited and meeting families he supports is also more difficult. "He told me death doesn't concern him much. He said if he were married with children he would have to think twice about running these risks but as it is he is free to fight for land reform in Brazil." In ParŠ ≠ a region of the Amazon which is dominated by large-scale agriculture such as cattle ranches and soya, mining and infrastructure projects ≠ there have been countless murders and acts of violence against poor farmers struggling to claim a piece of land promised to them through the government's Land Reform programme. Threats have also been made against many rural leaders and religious figures who fight to defend the human rights of the landless. In 2005 American nun Sister Dorothy Stang, 73, who also worked for CPT in ParŠ, was killed by a hired assassin. Lorna added: "The sad fact is that in many parts of Brazil human rights and access to secure livelihoods are denied to the majority of the poorest communities and violence is common place. "Fr Henri is a very courageous man. CAFOD is supporting him in every way we can and praying for his safety."
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