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quinta-feira, março 18, 2010

João Crisóstomo works for the Sousa Mendes cause

João Crisóstomohas been engaged in various causes and is currently promoting a series of masses religious events to commemorate Aristides de Sousa Mendes, in June 2010, the 70th anniversary of the Day of Conscience, when Sousa Mendes decided to try to "save all those people".
João Crisóstomo  is in Lisbon this week, meeting with other Friends of Sousa Mendes. TAP's Up Magazine has published an article about him recently:

" They call him the activist butler. Living in New York for 34 years, João Crisóstomo spends his free time fighting for things he believes in. He helped bring about a happy ending for the Foz Côa rock paintings and the self-determination of the Timor Leste people – only a couple of causes among the many he has embraced.

João Crisóstomo grew up in a family with a grand Catholic tradition. Many of his relatives followed a religious vocation and dedicated their lives to the priesthood. In his youth, he frequented a Franciscan seminary, but ended up treading a different path. His desire to help others was similar, however: “I’m not a fervent Catholic, but the basis of my life is to follow the word of Christ”, he admits. It is fair to say that over the last few decades this Portuguese New Yorker has dedicated himself to causes almost always related to Portugal or the Portuguese.

If Foz Côa today boasts the largest open-air Paleolithic museum in the world, it is because João Crisóstomo bears some responsibility, through the international campaign he launched in 1995 to prevent the flooding of this sanctuary of rock art. “The whole affair, for someone like me living abroad, was a surprise. I had no idea that Foz Côa existed, but when I read an article in the New York Times, I thought that we in the USA could lend a hand.” So the emigrant published an open letter to the editor explaining what was happening in Portugal. He also sent a letter to Boutros Ghali, then UN secretary-general, demonstrating his concern about the fact that construction of the Vila Nova de Foz Côa dam involved the submersion of the rock figures. The Times, the BBC, Le Monde and Liberation gave him much support. His epistles also reached Portugal in newspapers such as Público, Expresso, and Diário de Notícias.

“The Times of London championed the defence of the Foz Côa engravings. I even reached the owner, press baron Rupert Murdoch, because I was friends with the Portuguese butlers who worked for him, and I asked them to deliver a letter”. The result was an article which read: “Portugal must halt this 20th century vandalism”. At the time, these words were a bombshell in Portugal, he remembers. Peter Jennings, anchorman at ABC World News Tonight, dedicated a whole programme to the subject having been convinced by Crisóstomo: “If there hadn’t been world public opinion in favour of the engravings, there wouldn’t have been sufficient pressure to stop this”...
VER versão em português  aqui

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