Dorothy Stang

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Dorothy Mae Stang
Dorothy Stang.jpg
Martyr of the Amazon
Born(1931-06-07)7 June 1931
Dayton, Ohio, United States
Died12 February 2005(2005-02-12) (aged 73)
Anapu, Pará, Brazil
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church

Sister Dorothy Mae Stang, S.N.D., (7 June 1931 – 12 February 2005) was an American-born, Brazilian member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She was murdered in Anapu, a city in the state of Pará, in the Amazon Basin of Brazil. Stang had been outspoken in her efforts on behalf of the poor and the environment, and had previously received death threats from loggers and land owners. Her cause for canonization as a martyr and model of sanctity is underway within the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.[ citation needed ]

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Brazil Federal republic in South America

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, and its most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the term "congregation" is used not only in the senses that it has in other contexts, but also to mean specifically either a type of department of the Roman Curia, or a type of religious institute, or certain organized groups of Augustinian, Benedictine, and Cistercian houses.


Life work

Born on 7 June 1931 in Dayton, Ohio but naturalized Brazilian, [1] She entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur community in 1948 and professed final vows in 1956. From 1951 to 1966, she taught elementary school classes at St. Victor School in Calumet City, Illinois, St. Alexander School in Villa Park, Illinois and Most Holy Trinity School in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dayton, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Dayton is the sixth-largest city in the state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County. A small part of the city extends into Greene County. The 2017 U.S. census estimate put the city population at 140,371, while Greater Dayton was estimated to be at 803,416 residents. This makes Dayton the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Ohio and 63rd in the United States. Dayton is within Ohio's Miami Valley region, just north of Greater Cincinnati.

Naturalization process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country

Naturalization is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country. It may be done automatically by a statute, i.e., without any effort on the part of the individual, or it may involve an application or a motion and approval by legal authorities. The rules of naturalization vary from country to country but typically include a promise to obeying and upholding that country's laws, taking and subscribing to the oath of allegiance, and may specify other requirements such as a minimum legal residency and adequate knowledge of the national dominant language or culture. To counter multiple citizenship, most countries require that applicants for naturalization renounce any other citizenship that they currently hold, but whether this renunciation actually causes loss of original citizenship, as seen by the host country and by the original country, will depend on the laws of the countries involved.

Elementary school school for students at the ages of 3–12 to receive primary education

Elementary school is a school for students in their first school years, where they get primary education before they enter secondary education. The exact ages vary by country. In the United States, elementary schools usually have 6 grades with pupils aged between 6 and 13 years old, but the age can be up to 10 or 14 years old as well. In Japan, the age of pupils in elementary school ranges from 6 to 12, after which the pupils enter junior high school.

She began her ministry in Brazil in 1966, in Coroatá, Maranhão. Stang dedicated her life to defending the Brazilian rainforest from depletion from agriculture. She worked as an advocate for the rural poor beginning in the early 1970s, helping peasants make a living by farming small plots and extracting forest products without deforestation. She also sought to protect peasants from criminal gangs working on behalf of ranchers who were after their plots. Dot, as she was called by her family, friends and most locals in Brazil, is often pictured wearing a T-shirt with the slogan, "A Morte da floresta é o fim da nossa vida" which is Portuguese for "The Death of the Forest is the End of Our Lives".

Coroatá Municipality in Northeast, Brazil

Coroatá is a municipality in Maranhão.

Maranhão State of Brazil

Maranhão is a northeastern state of Brazil. To the north lies the Atlantic Ocean. Maranhão is neighboured by the states of Piauí, Tocantins and Pará. The people of Maranhão have a distinctive accent inside the common Northeastern Brazilian dialect. Maranhão is described in books such as The Land of the Palm Trees by Gonçalves Dias and Casa de Pensão by Aluísio Azevedo.

Rainforest type of forest with high rainfall

Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with annual rainfall in the case of tropical rainforests between 250 and 450 centimetres, and definitions varying by region for temperate rainforests. The monsoon trough, alternatively known as the intertropical convergence zone, plays a significant role in creating the climatic conditions necessary for the Earth's tropical rainforests.

I don't want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment. [2]


On the morning of 12 February 2005, Stang woke up early to walk to a community meeting to speak about the rights for the Amazon. Ciero, a farmer Stang invited to the meeting, was going to be late. Ciero was a couple of minutes behind Stang, but he was able to see her and hid from the two armed men who followed her. She progressed on and was blocked by the two men, Clodoaldo Carlos Batista and Raifran das Neves Sales, who worked in a livestock compagnie. They asked if she had any weapons, and she claimed that the only weapon would be her Bible. She then read a passage from the Beatitudes, "Blessed are the poor in spirit ..." She continued a couple of steps but was suddenly stopped when Ciero called her "sister", as she was held at gun point by Raifran. When Clodoaldo approved of discharging at Stang, Raifran fired a round at Stang's abdomen. She fell face down on the ground. Raifran fired another round into Stang's back, then fired all four remaining rounds into her head. [3]

Bible collection of sacred books in Judaism and Christianity

The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.

Beatitudes literary genre of the Bible

The Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Each is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative. Four of the blessings also appear in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke, followed by four woes which mirror the blessings.

Investigation and trials

The US Attorney's Office, Transnational Crime Unit, in Washington, DC, pursued an indictment of the four people (three in custody, one at large) under Title 18, USC 2332, a statute on international homicide. The key elements of this statute require 1) the victim be a US citizen, 2) that the murder take place outside the US, and 3) that the murder was carried out to influence, pressure, or coerce a government or civilian group. Stang's murder met all the key elements.

Title 18 of the United States Code is the main criminal code of the federal government of the United States. The Title deals with federal crimes and criminal procedure. In its coverage, Title 18 is similar to most U.S. state criminal codes, which typically are referred to by such names as Penal Code, Criminal Code, or Crimes Code. Typical of state criminal codes is the California Penal Code. Many U.S. state criminal codes, unlike the federal Title 18, are based on the Model Penal Code promulgated by the American Law Institute.

In June 2005, two men were charged with conspiracy to murder an American outside the United States in connection with her death. These men, Rayfran das Neves Sales and Clodoaldo Carlos Batista, were convicted on 10 December 2005. [4]

On 15 May 2007, a court in the city of Belém sentenced Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, aged 36, to the maximum term of 30 years in prison for paying gunmen to shoot Stang. Stang's brother David, who was at the trial, said "justice was done." In a second trial, Moura was acquitted of all charges, because the gunman, Rayfran das Neves Sales, declared in court to have killed Dorothy Stang for personal motivation. The prosecution appealed, however, and Moura was found guilty, and re-sentenced to 30 years in prison, on 12 April 2010.

Rayfran das Neves Sales was retried on 22 October 2007. He was again found guilty, and a judge in Belém sentenced him to 27 years in prisonthe same punishment as in the first trial in 2005. Prosecutors said Moura had ordered Stang's death because she had sent letters to the local authorities accusing Moura of setting illegal fires to clear land, which led to his receiving a substantial fine. At a third trial, on 6 May 2008, Rayfran das Neves Sales was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Regivaldo Pereira Galvão, a rancher suspected of ordering the killing, was arrested in December 2008 and was to be charged with the murder. He had been arrested previously for the murder but released. [5]

On 7 April 2009, the Court of Justice, in Pará, decided to void the third trial. The same court decided to put Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura back in jail but Moura's lawyer appealed that decision. A new trial was to be scheduled. [6] [7] On 22 April 2009, Superior Court of Justice of Brazil set Vitalmiro Moura free until a final decision about his request of Habeas corpus. [8]

Roniery Lopes, a witness in the trial of Regivaldo Galvão for fraud, was shot in November 2009, just before he was to testify. [9]

On 4 February 2010, Superior Court of Justice revoked Vitalmiro Moura's habeas corpus. Moura was arrested on 7 February, after surrendering voluntarily to police. [10] On 12 April 2010, he was convicted again by a jury and sentenced to 30 years in prison. [11] [12] [13]

On 1 May 2010, Regivaldo Galvão was also convicted of having ordered the murder. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. [14]

On 21 August 2012, the Brazilian Supreme Court conceded an habeas Corpus to Regivaldo Galvão. The defense attorney claims that jury decided to condemn Reginaldo before all the legal recourses available to the defendant were exhausted. Regivaldo Galvão was freed the following day. [15]

On 15 May 2013, Brazil's Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Vitalmiro Moura. [16] On 19 September 2013, Moura was convicted of the murder for a fourth time and sentenced to 30 years in prison by a court in Pará State. [17]

In July 2013, das Neves Sales gained early release from prison. [18] On 20 September 2014, Neves Sales was arrested again facing accusations of having killed a young man and woman with whom he had a drug deal. They supplied 50 kilograms of cocaine from Bolivia, but instead of paying them for the consignment, Sales fatally shot them. [19]


On 2 March, U.S. Ambassador John Danilovich met with Dorothy Stang's brother David, Daniel Junge, who was traveling with Stang to film a documentary, and Sister Mary Ellis McCabe, a member of Dorothy's religious congregation who was stationed in Ceará, Brazil. Stang and Junge were in Brasília to meet with Minister of Justice Marcio Thomaz Bastos after visiting the site of Stang's sister's murder in Para state. Stang thanked the Ambassador for the Embassy's support and said that he was pleased with the Brazilian federal government's reaction. He was very critical, however, of Para state authorities for failing to protect his sister and for failing to offer their condolences during his visit.[ citation needed ]

In 2008, the American filmmaker Daniel Junge released a documentary titled They Killed Sister Dorothy . The film is narrated by Martin Sheen in the version in English and by Wagner Moura in the version in Portuguese. The film received the Audience Award and the Competition Award at the 2008 South by Southwest Festival, where it had its worldwide première. [20]


In 2009, Evan Mack composed an opera based on the life of Sr. Dorothy Stang. Angel of the Amazon [21] depicts her life's work, her devotion to her mission with Brazilian peasant farmers, and the events that sent her on a path of martyrdom. Encompass New Opera Theatre developed the opera in 2010.

Other notable mentions

A brief overview of the circumstances and murder of Sister Dorothy Stang is discussed in the movie Cowspiracy (2014).

A center for social justice activism at Notre Dame de Namur University is named for her.

See also

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  1. Rocha, Jan (21 February 2005). "Sister Dorothy Stang". The Guardian . Brazil. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  2. Allen, John L. (2016). The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution. Image. p. 93. ISBN   978-0-7704-3737-4.
  3. Murphy, Roseanne S.N.D. de N. Martyr of the Amazon: The Life of Sister Dorothy Stang. Maryknoll, New York 10545: Orbis Books, 2007.
  5. Domit, Myrna (29 December 2008). "Rancher to Be Charged in 2005 Killing of Nun in Amazon". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  6. "The cancellation of third trial" (in Portuguese). O Globo (Brazil). 7 April 2009.
  7. "The prison of Vitalmiro Moura after the cancellation of third trial" (in Portuguese). O Globo (Brazil). 9 April 2009.
  8. "The release of Vitalmiro Moura until a decision about Habeas corpus" (in Portuguese). O Globo (Brazil). 22 April 2009.
  9. "Brazil nun case witness is shot and wounded". BBC News . 29 November 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  10. "The prison of Vitalmiro Moura after the revoking of his Habeas Corpus" (in Portuguese). Folha do Progresso (Brazil). 8 February 2010. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011.
  11. "Brazil man jailed for murdering Sister Dorothy Stang". BBC News. 13 April 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  12. "Brazilian Rancher Guilty in US Nun's Murder". Associated Press. 13 April 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010.[ dead link ]
  13. "Brazil man jailed for murdering Sister Dorothy Stang". UK Wired News. 13 April 2010. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  14. "The conviction of Regivaldo Galvão" (in Portuguese). O Globo (Brazil). 1 May 2010.
  15. "Condemned Defendant for the Death of Dorothy Stang has been freed" (in Portuguese). O Globo (Brazil). 22 August 2012.
  16. "Brazil: Supreme Court overturns the conviction of landowner Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura jailed for ordering the 2005 murder of Sr. Dorothy Stang | Front Line". Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  17. Reuters. (21 September 2013). "Brazil: Rancher Convicted Again in Nun's Death," The New York Times, p.A6.
  18. "Brazilian killer of American-born nun gains early release from prison : News Headlines". Catholic Culture. 5 July 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  20. "Documentary about Dorothy Stang case" (in Portuguese). O Dia (Brazil). 30 September 2008. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011.
  21. "". Retrieved 19 September 2013.


  1. ^ reference to an Article in the January 2007 issue of National Geographic
  2. ^ Article in the July/August 2005 issue of Maryknoll (

Further reading