Frei Betto

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Frei Betto
Frei Betto 25385.jpeg
Born Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo
August 25, 1944
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Residence São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Nationality Flag of Brazil.svg Brazilian
Occupation Dominican friar, priest and writer

Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo, O.P., better known as Frei Betto[1] (born August 25, 1944) is a Brazilian Roman Catholic Priest, writer, political activist, Philosopher, liberation theologian and Dominican friar.


Christo was born in Belo Horizonte. At the age of 20, when he was a student of journalism, he entered the Dominican Order. He was later imprisoned for four years by the military dictatorship which ruled Brazil for smuggling people out of country. His incarceration was part of an ongoing series of attacks by the government on activist members of the Roman Catholic Church.[2]

In addition to work on eliminating hunger in Brazil,[3] Christo is involved in various aspects of Brazil's politics. He worked for the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva,[4] for whom he was considered a spiritual advisor[5] and mentor.[6]

As a liberation theologian, Christo has been involved in various international efforts in order to support an understanding between Marxism and Christianity. During the 1980s, he visited Havana and held frequent and lengthy interviews with Fidel Castro, the result of such talks being a book, Fidel and Religion, where Castro exposed his views on Christianity, something that raised protest among conservatives but is also said to have improved relations between Castro's government and the Cuban Catholic Church.[7][8]

During Mikhail Gorbachev's Perestroika, Christo was also involved in various efforts aimed at an understanding between leaders of Russian Orthodox Church and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, such efforts being described in the form of a travelogue published by him in 1993 in Portuguese, Lost Paradise, which the author dedicates to a certain Theophilus ("God's friend"), apparently the same as the mysterious addressee of the Gospel of Luke, which should be understood as a symbol of all Christians.[9]


Christo was selected by UNESCO as the 2013 recipient of its International José Martí Prize. The reason given by Irina Bokova, its Director General, was his exceptional contribution to building a universal culture of peace, social justice and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean. The prize was awarded on 28 January in Havana, Cuba, at the Third International Conference on World Balance, being held to mark the 160th anniversary of José Martí’s birth.[10]


  1. ^ Skidmore, Thomas E. (1990). The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964-1985. Oxford University Press US. p. 355. ISBN 0-19-506316-3. 
  2. ^ Larry Rohter (2003-03-30). "Brazil's War on Hunger Off to a Slow Start". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  3. ^ Larry Rohter (2002-10-08). "Man in the News; Workingman President, Maybe - Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  4. ^ Harold Olmos (2006-09-24). "Brasil: Lejos del Radicalismo, Lula cerca de la Reeleccion". El Diario/La Prensa. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  5. ^ Harold Olmos (2006-09-24). "Brazil's Silva Likely to Win Re-Election". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  6. ^ Alan Riding (1989-02-05). "Brazil's Cardinal's Praise of Castro Stirs Protest". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  7. ^ Richard N. Ostling (1985-12-30). "Castro Looks at Christianity". Time. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  8. ^ Marcelo Thimoteo da Costa, "Um Éden no Leste? A União Soviética Segundo Frei Betto". Alceu, v.10, n.19, July/December 2009, pages 205/218
  9. ^ "Dominican friar "Frei Betto" to receive 2013 UNESCO/José Martí Prize". UNESCO Media Services. 11 January 2013. 
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