Slaves in Paradise

A Priest Stands Up for Exploited Sugarcane Workers

Written by Jesús García

Street date: April 2017

This powerful book is about one of the most controversial realities in our modern world: the existence of slave labor in the 21st century, with millions of people today living in horrendous conditions of abuse and subjugation. It is the heroic story of missionary priest Fr. Christopher Hartley who, inspired by the Gospel, committed his life to fight for such workers in the sugar cane industry of the Dominican Republic so they could live and die with the human dignity that was denied them.

When he arrived in 1997, Fr. Hartley carried out intense work of evangelization and, calling on the social doctrine of the Church, denounced the situation of slavery of his faithful: he proclaimed it in a speech before the President of the Republic and he confronted the proprietors of the sugar mills. Because of his strong criticism of such exploitation, he endured harsh treatment by the press and others, and was threatened with death.

During his years of mission until he was expelled from the country in 2006, he wrote detailed letters to his friend about the horrible conditions he was fighting against for his people. In the letters, together with rich spiritual reflections and filled with apostolic passion, Fr. Hartley tells chilling stories of his people’s suffering as well as striking expressions of love for God and faith in Providence by those who have nothing.

These moving, insightful letters are the heart of this book, bolstered by the inspiring testimonies of those who lived and worked by his side in this great missionary epic. It reveals how terrible evil and suffering can be overcome by strong faith and deep love.

“This is a book that exudes hope, which generates the happiness and joy of living, and sparks a lively desire to do the same: to evangelize. The testimony of this beloved missionary priest transmits joy and light, as he transmitted that same joy and hope to those long-suffering brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic.”
– Cardinal Antonio Canizares, from the Foreword

To purchase the book from Ignatius Press, click here.

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