Catholic thinker, writer, university professor, journalist and lecturer — all of these describe the life of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. However, such a description is somehow inadequate and incomplete.
Indeed, he is a man who must be seen in light of the times in which he lived. Born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1908, he is a figure that stands tall in a tempestuous century where he emerged as a man of faith, thought and action.
If he is to be defined at all, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira must first be understood as one who valued his Catholic Faith above all else. The Faith marked his entire life. He turned his back on a promising political career, and put himself at the service of the Church and Christian Civilization.
This central focus began from his infancy when his mother, Lucilia Corrêa de Oliveira, imparted to him an ardent love of the Catholic Church. That early formation and later his Jesuit education, was the foundation of a life of zealous Catholic action.
In 1928 he joined the Marian Congregations of São Paulo and soon became one of its main leaders and orators. In 1933 he helped organize the Catholic Electoral League and was elected to the nation’s Constitutional Convention. As the youngest congressman in Brazil’s history, he garnered the largest number of votes and served as a distinguished leader of the Catholic bloc.
The rest of his life is a long list of service to the Catholic cause. He held the chair of Modern and Contemporary History at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo. He was also the first president of the São Paulo Archdiocesan Board of Catholic Action.
From 1935 to 1947 he served as director of the Catholic weekly O Legionário, which attained prominence in the Brazilian Catholic press under his tutelage especially for its opposition to Nazism. In 1951 he began his direction of the monthly paper Catolicismo. From 1968 to 1990 he wrote a column for the Folha de S.Paulo, the city’s largest daily newspaper.
However, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira was more than just a man of faith and action. His profound analysis of history and world events gave rise to a pole of Catholic thought that opposed communism and Catholic leftism as it rocked Latin America and the world.
An avowed Thomist, he was the author of 15 books and over 2,500 in-depth essays and articles. His works include: In Defence of Catholic Action, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, The Church and the Communist State: The Impossible Coexistence, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII and many others.
Finally, Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira was truly a crusader of the twentieth century, a man who was the very embodiment of his thought. He founded the Brazilian Society for the Defence of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) in 1960 and served as president of its National Council until his death in 1995. His life example and his penetrating treatise Revolution and Counter-Revolution inspired the founding of autonomous TFPs, TFP Bureaus and kindred associations worldwide. Family Action South Africa (FASA) is proud to count itself as one such kindred organisation.
None of his works would be possible without an intense interior life. What impressed those who knew Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira was his profound confidence in the Blessed Virgin who was the source of his courage and allowed him to carry on the struggle for Christian Civilization with the absolute certainty of the final victory of good over evil. He was the Crusader of the Twentieth Century who firmly believed in the words of Our Lady at Fatima: “Finally my Immaculate Heart will triumph!”