Bishop Erwin Kräutler

The Lord moves in mysterious ways. In the case of Erwin Kräutler, ones that would eventually lead to a fairer and more just world – take in numerous dangerous diversions along the way.

Vorarlberg, 1939. Society is divided, persecution and fear reign. And bishop Erwin Kräutler is born. From an early age he greets people with the words “Servus Christi”. This phrase, which would become his catchphrase, means something along the lines of “Servant of Jesus Christ”. His religious calling took him to Brazil in 1965, where he presided over the nation’s largest diocese and found that conditions were much the same as they had been in Austria in the year of his birth. Indigenous populations were being forced out, exploited and dispossessed. And the same applied to the natural world.

Kräutler took on landowners, timber merchants and even the military police. A matter of life and death, during which time he survived several assassination attempts and witnessed the murder of many of his fellow campaigners. In spite of the dangers, he remained true to his path and won the Right Livelihood Prize (widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’) in 2010. Although he resigned his office due to old age in 2015, his human rights work on behalf of indigenous peoples and tireless campaigning to preserve the tropical rainforests in the Amazon continued in his name.