‘Deixa a Cúria, Pedro!’, by Pedro Casaldáliga

BANANA PLANTATION WORKERSPedro Casaldáliga, who is bishop emeritus of São Félix do Araguaia, Brazil, has penned what I think is a challenging poem – ‘Deixa a Cúria, Pedro!’ – in response to Benedict XVI’s announced retirement. Here is an English translation of the poem:

Leave the Curia, Peter,
disassemble the Sanhedrin and the walls,
order all the impeccable scrolls to be changed
to words of life and love.

Let us go to the garden of the banana plantations,
undercover and by night, at any risk,
for there, the Master sweats the blood of the poor.

The tunic/vestment is this humble disfigured flesh,
so many cries of children unanswered,
and memories embroidered with the anonymous dead.

A legion of mercenaries besieges the frontier of the rising dawn
and Caesar blesses them in his arrogance.
In the tidy bowl, Pilate, legalistic and cowardly, washes himself.

The people are just a “remnant”,
a remnant of hope.
Leave them not alone among the guards and princes.
It’s time to sweat with His agony,
It’s time to drink the chalice of the poor,
lift the cross, devoid of certainties,
shatter the building — law and seal — of the Roman tomb,
and wake up to

Tell them, tell us all
that the grotto of Bethlehem,
the Beatitudes,
and the judgement of love as food,
remain in force and steadfast.

Be no longer troubled!

As you love Him,
love us,
as an equal, brother.

Give us, with your smiles, your new tears
the fish of joy,
the bread of the word,
roses of embers …
… the clarity of the untrammeled horizon,
the Sea of Galilee,
ecumenically open to the world.


  1. This is very beautiful. And I’m deeply sympathetic. Still: it seems to me that the rejection of power is not only the easy option, but one that masks our own complicity in power structures that return but now much more viciously because they are unacknowledged and beyond critique. This is Rose’s complaint against Levinas privileging of the other. As odd as it may sound, to stay rather to leave, to tarry with acknowledged power, might be more of a theologia crucis than to privilege other power structures (‘the poor’) that mask their own kinds of violence made more vicious because they remain unarticulated. (That Benedict saw the papal office as a theologia crucis is not besides the point; as is his insistence, when leaving, that he was not abandoning the cross).


  2. Moro no MT, próximo a São Félix do Araguaia… Casaldáliga, Boff, Frei Betto e outros abandonaram o Evangelho de Cristo e abraçaram o evangelho de Marx, Gramsci e Cia.

    É um cego guiando outro cego…


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