Colombian priest, sociologist, and revolutionary guerrilla; b. Bogotá, Colombia, Feb. 3, 1927; d. Feb. 16, 1966. Camillo Torres Restrepo was born into a branch of one of Colombia's few ruling families. After a rather free social life he decided to enter the diocesan seminary in Bogotá. Ordained a priest in 1953, he then went to the Catholic University of Louvain, where his work was exemplary if unoriginal. After a brief period as rector of the Latin American College in Louvain he returned to Colombia in 1958 to study the socioeconomic conditions of Colombia, a study which was to form the basis of his doctoral dissertation.
Appointed chaplain of Bogotá's National University, Torres gradually became more actively involved in criticizing, and then attempting to rectify, the inequities that he personally perceived and that had become the object of his disciplined investigation. His initial assumption that needed reforms could be effected within the existing social and political structures developed into a belief that the structures themselves demanded change through radical action.
In 1964 Torres formed a United Front into which he attempted to bring people of widely divergent political views. The radical measures he proposed attracted national attention and, within both the government and the Catholic hierarchy, strong opposition. His calls for a revolution made a formal rupture almost inevitable, and he was granted laicization in June 1965. He campaigned with great energy for the United Front until Oct., when he joined a guerrilla movement of the left. In February of the following year, as he participated in an ambush on a military patrol, he was killed. His place of burial remains unknown.
Bibliography: c. torres, Biografia, plataforma, mensajes (Medellin 1966). g. guzmÁn, Camilo, el cura guerillero (Bogotà1967); Revolutionary Priest, ed. and with an introduction by j. gerassi (New York 1971). w. j. broderick, Camilo Torres: A Biography of the Priest-Guerrillero (New York 1975).