published on “O Estado de S. Paulo”, august 22th 1979
São Paulo, August 15th 1979
I write to you as a subscriber to O Estado de S. Paulo, which I have been for about forty years. Be notified that I no longer wish to receive your newspaper, consider my 1979 subscription cancelled, and do not expect to be sought after by your advertising department for a new subscription in the years to come.
This is due neither to the recent attacks made by your paper against the TFP, of whose National Council I am the President, nor to those against my person. The TFP has already been attacked in the past by O Estado de S. Paulo without me even having thought of terminating my subscription.
However, in a news item published on the 12th of this month, the TFP and I were the objects of a polemic viciousness from your paper such as to have, to our knowledge, no precedent in its past or in the history of the Brazilian press.
The news item to which I alluded was intended to strike me in one of the most sacred and intimate sentiments of the human heart: the affection and veneration every son has for his mother. I am certain that no reader of the Estado will deny that my inconformity with it is entirely justified, whatever his opinion of the rightness or opportuneness of any particular act in my public life may be.
Polemic viciousness: the expression, Dr. Julio de Mesquita Neto, is totally precise. To attack me and the TFP, was it just, was it decent for O Estado de S. Paulo to go as far as to violate the august peace of the dead, in which my mother sleeps in Christian serenity awaiting the dawn of the resurrection?
Was it just and decent for it to drag into a debate — and in such a manner! — her name and the testimonies of veneration and affection which surround her memory?
By acting in this way, has 0 Estado de S. Paulo not transgressed a human right, it which boasts of being the paladin of such rights even when it is a question of bloody and irreducible adversaries of the most fundamental precepts of human and divine laws?
Doubtless, all men without exception have rights. If that is the case, do I not have them also? Simply because I belong to the TFP?
The above mentioned news item of the Estado says that many members and volunteers of the TFP have recourse to the intercession of the pious soul of my mother in obtaining graces from Heaven. It deftly manipulates the fact in such a way as to make it appear to be the expression of a ridiculous or absurd mentality that the TFP supposedly inculcates in those in its circles.
To accomplish this the article went so far as to present, by way of example, an utterly absurd adaptation of the Hail Mary.
Just as an extreme precaution, I investigated to see if by chance this adaptation had made its way into the ranks of the TFP. And I can answer that it did not. If by chance such a thing had occurred once, and that without my knowledge, it would prove nothing. What organization with such numbers accepts responsibility for the peculiar things that one or another of its members or volunteers may do on their own?
Therefore, I consider it not only unjust but even vicious to resort for the sake of polemics to an absurdity of this kind, even though it were true.
* * *
There is more. It is quite true that a certain number of people belonging to the TFP, or close to it, visit the grave of my dear longed-for mother at the Consolation Cemetery, decorate it with flowers, and pray there in recollected silence.
This is the result of an easily explained sequence of events.
For more than fifty years I have dedicated myself to activities in favor of the Church and of Christian Civilization. As is well known among those who have associated with me, until the year 1967 there was a total separation between my home — where the traditional lady of Sao Paulo, of whom I am honored to say I was born, lived in the gentle dignity of private life — and my valiant companions in public action. This was so to such a degree that only a half-dozen of them frequented my home, and to everyone else my mother was unknown, or practically so.
In 1967, an illness gravely endangered my life, and my residence was naturally filled with friends. My deeply afflicted mother, already at the advanced age of 91, received everyone. In that trying ordeal she gave welcomed them showing her maternal affection, Christian resignation, unlimited goodness of heart, and the charming kindness characteristic of the Sao Paulo of yesteryear. It was a surprise to everyone and, understandably, a delight to their souls. This lasted for many months.
I had not entirely recovered when God called my mother. From then on, some members of the TFP decided to ask her intercession with God. And they have been heeded. Therefore there is nothing more natural than their placing wreaths on her grave as a testimony of respect and gratitude. It is no less normal for them to tell their experiences to their friends. And that there should be a gradual increase in the number of those who go to pray at the tomb in the Consolation Cemetery is equally as natural.
Was it for me, as a son, to oppose this which, far from being ridiculous or extravagant, is — for those who have faith — profoundly respectable? Would it be beneficial if I tried somehow to deprive people tormented by the tribulation of a life of struggle in the raging contemporary world, of this moral support.
Faced with such facts that I watched discreetly without, however, encouraging, I could do nothing but reverently keep silent, moved and thankful.
I insist. In my place, what son would not have done so?
I have just related all this from the point of view of common sense and goodness of heart. Now looking to a higher plane, I will go on to speak in terms of the Catholic Faith and doctrine.
To ask the intercession of a person who lived and died piously does not intrinsically and necessarily mean a declaration that that person is a canonized saint. Catholic doctrine teaches that it is legitimate for the faithful to have recourse to the intercession of those who preceded them in death “cum signo fidei” [with the sign of the Faith], especially when by their conduct or words they inspired the practice of virtue and thus brought people closer to God. In this general principle are included, for example, the so well known requests to the souls in Purgatory when the faithful pray for them.
This is what was formerly done in a private way in the TFP, in the same way having recourse to the intercession of members or volunteers who died by illness or accident, visiting their graves and so on. And this is what is done, inside and outside the TFP, with the mortal remains of figures that the Church has not canonized, such as the great Bishop of Olinda and Recife, Dom Vital, or the heroic president of Ecuador, Garcia Moreno, who was assassinated out of hatred for the Faith.
There is nothing more orthodox.
For all these reasons I protest with all the energy of my sense of honor and my filial piety, against the fact that this paper has treated the subject in such an offensive manner, without even having sought me beforehand to find out if I had some reasonable explanation to give. I, who on more than one occasion have kindly received representatives of the Jornal da Tarde who asked my opinion on one issue or another.
This is what I had to say.
* * *
Reread this letter, Mr. Publisher; you will not find one superfluous affirmation in defense of the name of my mother or what is called, in current language, my human rights.
I would like to believe that your “Letters to the Editor” section is really open to all, and I thus hope that this letter will be published in it. But I formally require that this text be printed in its entirety, and without the suppression of any subject, and therefore without “summarizing” any part. If this is not done, I oppose its publication.
If the O Estado de S. Paulo refuses to publish it, I know what to do to accomplish the purpose of this letter with all due respect to the Law of God and the laws of men.
At present, neither I nor the TFP dispose of the financial means necessary for paid advertisements against the powerful media organization of the 0 Estado de S. Paulo. But I do know how to appeal to impartial minds and sensitive hearts which, thanks be to God, are not lacking in this dear and immense Brazil.
* * *
I am sending this to you through the County Register without any intention of resorting to legal measures. This has been done only to prove, once and for all, that at the right time I defended the name of my mother, my personal dignity, and the good reputation of the TFP with due firmness.
“Beati mortui qui in Domino moriuntur” — “Blessed are those who die in the peace of the Lord.” It is in the peace of the Lord where she is that, I well know, my dear mother prays for me. In accord with the unlimited goodness of her heart, I know that she is also praying for the author of the offense, and that she asks that no one do to him the evil done to her and to me.
I follow the maternal example. This what I have to say in closing.
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Note of this site: To know more about Lucilia Ribeiro Corrêa de Oliveira, see “From the hearts of the mothers to the hearts of the children: Dona Lucilia“