Born in Brussels in 1923, Comblin died Sunday at a hospital in the city of Salvador, Canadian Press reports.
He was ordained in 1947 and came to Brazil for the first time in 1958 in response to a request from Pope Pius XII for European priests to act as voluntary missionaries in regions that lacked priests, Iglesia Descalza reports.
He initially settled in Campinas, in the interior of the state of Sao Paulo where he served as a professor and got close to the Juventud Obrera Católica (Young Catholic Workers), for whom he worked as an adviser.
In Sao Paulo, where he stayed until 1962 before traveling to Chile, he was professor in the Dominican School of Theology to friars who distinguished themselves later as liberation theologians and in the resistance to the Brazilian dictatorship, including Frei Betto and Frei Tito.
He later worked in Chile, teaching at or leading seminaries there.
He was expelled from both Brazil and Chile for his views.
Father Comblin, who had heart problems and used a pacemaker, was found dead in the room where he was staying by other religious who were waiting for him for morning prayers and were surprised at his delay, reports Claudio Carvalhes citing Brazilian sources.
He is to be buried in a small town in the impoverished Brazilian state of Paraíba according to his wishes, said spokespersons for the Archdiocese of Barra, which is also in the state of Bahía where he lived.
Comblin was one of the followers and main advisers to the Brazilian bishop Hélder Cámara, the defender of human rights and the Church’s option for the poor, who came to be known as the “Red bishop” during the Brazilian dictatorship.
In Memoriam: Fr. José Comblin (Iglesia Descalza)
In Memoriam: Fr. José Comblin (Claudio Carvalhes)