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Leonardo Boff is a Brazilian theologian and writer, known for his active support for the rights of the poor and excluded. He currently serves as Professor Emeritus of Ethics, Philosophy of Religion and Ecology at the Rio de Janeiro State University.
Studies as a priest
Born Genézio Darci Boff on 14 December 1938 in Concórdia, Santa Catarina, he entered the Franciscan Order in 1959 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1964. He spent the following years studying for a doctorate in theology and philosophy at the University of Munich, which he received in 1970. Boff's doctoral thesis studied in what measure the Church can be a sign of the sacred and the divine in the secular world and in the process of liberation of the oppressed. He has since published his thesis as a book available in German, entitled Die Kirche als Sakrament im Horizont der Welterfahrung.
Boff became one of the best known supporters (along with Gustavo Gutiérrez) of the early Liberation theologians. He was present in the first reflections that sought to articulate indignation against misery and marginalization with promissory discourse of the faith, leading to Liberation theology. He continues to be a controversial figure in the Catholic Church, primarily for his sharp criticism of the church's hierarchy, which he sees as "fundamentalist", but also for his past critical support of communist régimes.
Boff is critical of secular power as well of American foreign policy. He opposed the Iraq War and considered George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon's leadership to be similar to that of "fundamentalist terrorist states." He also criticizes despotic rulers in the Middle East: "Those [emirs and kings] are despotic, they do not even have a constitution. Though extremely rich, they maintain the people in poverty."
For me, the terrorist attack of September 11 represents the shift towards a new humanitarian and world model. The targeted buildings sent a message: a new world civilization cannot be built with the kind of dominating economy (symbolized by the World Trade Center), with the kind of death machine set up (the Pentagon) and with the kind of arrogant politics and producer of many exclusions ... For me the system and culture of capital began to collapse. They are too destructive.
In the same interview he said that "One of the worst fundamentalisms is that of neoliberalism".
Authorities in the Roman Catholic Church did not appreciate Boff's criticism of the Church's leadership. They also felt his human rights advocacy had "politicized everything" and accused him of Marxism. In 1985, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, directed at that time by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), silenced him for a year for his book Church: Charism and Power. He later accused Ratzinger of "religious terrorism".
Boff was almost silenced again in 1992 by Rome, this time to prevent him from participating in the Eco-92 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which finally led him to leave the Franciscan religious order and the priestly ministry.
Boff joined the international group of Catholic Scholars who in 2012 issued the Jubilee Declaration on reform of authority in the Catholic Church.
For most of his life Boff has worked as a professor in the academic fields of theology, ethics and philosophy throughout Brazil and also as lecturer in many universities abroad such as University of Lisbon, University of Barcelona, University of Lund, University of Oslo, University of Torino and others.
Boff commented on the election of Pope Francis in March 2013: "I am encouraged by this choice, viewing it as a pledge for a church of simplicity and of ecological ideals." He said the new pope was conservative in many respects but had liberal views on some subjects as well.
- Evangelio del Cristo cósmico. 2009. ISBN 978-84-9879-087-0
- El águila y la gallina. Una metáfora de la condición humana. Cuarta edición 2006. ISBN 978-84-8164-514-9
- Ecología: grito de la Tierra, grito de los pobres. Cuarta edición 2006. ISBN 978-84-8164-104-2
- Femenino y masculino. Una nueva conciencia para el encuentro de las diferencias. 2004. ISBN 978-84-8164-689-4
- La voz del arco iris. 2003. ISBN 978-84-8164-589-7
- El cuidado esencial. Ética de lo humano, compasión por la Tierra. 2002. ISBN 978-84-8164-517-0
- Mística y espiritualidad, junto a Frei Betto. Tercera edición 2002. ISBN 978-84-8164-102-8
- Ética planetaria desde el Gran Sur. 2001. ISBN 978-84-8164-412-8
- Gracia y experiencia humana. 2001. ISBN 978-84-8164-498-2
- El despertar del águila. 2000. ISBN 978-84-8164-409-8
- La dignidad de la Tierra. Ecología, mundialización, espiritualidad. 2000. ISBN 978-84-8164-363-3
- La opción-Tierra: la solución para la tierra no cae del cielo. 2008. ISBN 978-84-293-1762-6
- Los sacramentos de la vida. 1977. ISBN 978-84-293-0491-6
- (Portuguese) Interview to the Comunità Italiana: "[Os USA] fizeram alianças espúrias com os emires e reis. Estes são despóticos, sequer possuem constituição. Embora riquíssimos, mantém o povo na pobreza." November 2001
- "Sponsors of the Catholic Scholars' Declaration A-B". Authority in the Catholic Church. John Wijngaards Catholic Research Centre. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- Schmall, Emily (13 March 2013). "A Conservative With a Common Touch". New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "L. Boff: "Bergoglio aprobó que una pareja gay adoptara un niño"". Religion Digital. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- Cox, Harvey (1988). The Silencing of Leonardo Boff: The Vatican and the Future of World Christianity. Meyer-Stone Books. ISBN 0-940989-35-2. OCLC 18193194 230967924.
- Official home page
- Works by or about Leonardo Boff in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Right Livelihood Award
- Interview to the Comunita Italiana (in Portuguese)
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