The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is deeply saddened and profoundly disturbed by the brutal assassination of Sister Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN on February 12, 2005 outside Anapau, Brazil. This unconscionable act ended the life of a woman who had dedicated the last forty years of her life to advocacy for the poor and the forgotten peoples of the Amazon rainforest.
Sister Dorothy spoke for the dispossessed and the voiceless to the wealthy ranchers and lumber companies who ruthlessly ravage the rainforest and exploit it for personal gain. Speaking truth to power is a prophetic act and Sister Dorothy paid for it with her life.
Sadly, Sister Dorothy was neither the first person nor the last person to die for confronting those tragically raping Brazil’s precious natural resources. The killing will go on until Brazil’s government leaders use their legitimate power to stop those behind the terror and the violence.
We call on the world community and to all those committed to human rights, to raise their voices and exert their influence in protest for Sister Dorothy’s murder, the murder of rural farmers whose names we do not know, and for the devastation of the rainforests of Brazil.
We call on the United States government to do all in its power to condemn the assassination of Sister Dorothy Stang and to urge the Brazilian government to find and prosecute those responsible for her death.
We call on the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to end the practice of imposing on countries “structural adjustment conditions” which in turn drive governments to tolerate anti-environment, anti-human rights actions in the name of economic progress.
We call on the Brazilian government to act to end the lawlessness perpetrated with impunity by those exploiting the land, destroying the forest, and terrorizing the people of the rainforest.
We extend to the international congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, as well as to the Brazilian people among whom Sister Dorothy lived, our deepest sympathy for their tragic loss. We will continue to advocate for the persons and causes for which she gave her life.
Another Latin American martyr, Archbishop Oscar Romero promised, “"If they kill me, I will live on in the Salvadoran people." Without doubt, Sister Dorothy Stang will live on in the hearts of the Brazilian people, and will walk with them in this critical time.
The members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) are approximately 1000 women religious leaders who are responsible for more than 450 Catholic institutes in the United States. The conference’s members represent approximately 73,000 of the country’s Catholic sisters.