AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Jesuit Bartomeu Melià, great expert in language and culture of the Guaraní indigenous people, has died

Saturday, 7 December 2019 indigenous   missionary animation   missionary institutes  

Asunciòn (Agenzia Fides) - Yesterday, December 6, Jesuit father Bartomeu Melià died in Asunción. Born in Porreras, on the island of Majorca, in 1932, he arrived in Paraguay in 1954, and since then he began studying the Guaraní language and culture, indigenous of Latin America, of which he was considered one of the leading experts. Throughout his life he combined scholarly work with his life experience with indigenous peoples, denouncing the injustices of which they are victims, and working for the survival of indigenous languages. His commitment meant, in 1976, the expulsion from Paraguay for having publicly repudiated the systematic massacre of the Ache-Guayaki.
As recalled by the note sent to Agenzia Fides by the Jesuit curia of Spain, Father Melià moved to the jungle to live with the Guarani, integrating himself into their daily life, knowing the rites of their ancestral religion and walking alongside them. He was professor of ethnology and Guaranì culture at the Catholic University of Asunción and president of the Center of anthropological studies of the same university.
After being expelled from Paraguay he moved to Brazil, where he lived with the Enawene-nawé, in Mato Grosso, accompanied by the Jesuit Vicente Cañas, who was later assassinated for defending that community (see Fides, 14/11/2017; 5/12/2017). In 1989 he was able to return to Paraguay. He actively participated in various programs of bilingual intercultural education, both in Paraguay and in Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. He wrote numerous books and articles, and was awarded several awards for his commitment to the causes of indigenous peoples and for the defense of the Guaraní language. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides, 7/12/2019)