Leonardo Boff

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Professor Leonardo Boff

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[edit]

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.

Liberation theology[edit]

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.

Political views[edit]

Boff is critical of secular power as well of U.S. 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."[1]

In November 2001, Boff said that "One of the worst fundamentalisms is that of neoliberalism".[1]

Secularization[edit]

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.[citation needed] He later accused Ratzinger of "religious terrorism".[1]

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.[2]

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."[3] He said the new pope was conservative in many respects but had liberal views on some subjects as well.[4]

Works[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c (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
  2. ^ "Sponsors of the Catholic Scholars' Declaration A-B". Authority in the Catholic Church. John Wijngaards Catholic Research Centre. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Schmall, Emily (13 March 2013). "A Conservative With a Common Touch". New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "L. Boff: "Bergoglio aprobó que una pareja gay adoptara un niño"". Religion Digital. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]