Remembering Padre Camilo Torres

 

Father Camilo Torres Restrepo (born in BogotáColombia on 3 February 1929 – died in Santander on 15 February 1966) was a Colombian Roman Catholic priest, a predecessor of theLiberation Theology and a member of the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group. During his life, he tried to reconcile revolutionary Marxism with Catholicism, or vice-versa.

Torres was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1954, but continued to study for some years at the Pontifical Catholic University of Leuven (Louvain) in Belgium. When he returned to Colombia, he increasingly felt obliged to actively support the cause of poor people and the labouring class. Camilo Torres believed that in order to secure justice for the people, Christians had a duty to use violent action[citation needed] (cf: an eye for an eye).

As part of the academic staff of the National University of Colombia, he was a co-founder of the Sociology Faculty together with Orlando Fals Borda in 1960.

His involvement in several student and political movements during the time won him a large following and also many detractors, specially from the government and the church itself. Due to the growing pressure to back down from his radical positions, Camilo Torres saw himself persecuted and went into hiding (leaving his job as an academic) by joining the guerrillas in Colombia. He served as a low-ranking member of the ELN to whom he also provided spiritual assistance and inspiration from a Marxist-Christian point of view. He was killed in his first combat experience, when the ELN ambushed a Colombian Military patrol.

After his death, Camilo Torres was made an official martyr of the ELN.

He is perhaps best known for the quote: “If Jesus were alive today, He would be a guerrillero.”[citation needed]

In the Dominican Republic in 1970 a revolutionary group that included catholic clergy members and university students was founded under the name CORECATO which stood forComando Revolucionario Camilo Torres or Revolutionary Command Camilo Torres.

 

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