Leonardo Boff

Leonardo Boff

Leonardo Boff was born 14 December 1938 in Concórdia, Santa Catarina state, Brazil. He is a theologian, philosopher 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.

tudies as a Priest

He entered the Franciscan Order in 1959 and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1964.

Boff then 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. Boff has since published his thesis as a book available in German, entitled "Die Kirche als Sakrament im Horizont der Welterfahrung".

Liberation Theology

He became one of the best known (along with Gustavo Gutierrez) of the early Liberation theologians. He was present in the first reflections that sought to articulate indignation against misery and marginalization with promisory discourse of the faith, leading to Liberation Theology. He continues to be a controversial figure in the Catholic Church, primarily for his past support of communist régimes, but also for his alleged support of homosexuality and commentary on the destruction of the World Trade Center as marking "a new planetary and humanistic paradigm". [ [http://www.comunitaitaliana.com.br/Entrevistas/boff.htm Interview in Communità italiana] .]

He has always been an advocate of the human rights cause, helping to formulate a new, Latin American perspective with "rights to life and the ways to maintain them with dignity". The work of liberation theologians helped lead to the creation of more than 1,000,000 "ecclesial base communities" ("Comunidades Eclesiais de Base" or CEBs) among poor Catholics in Brazil and in Latin America. The movement (and Boff) also criticised the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the social and economic order that oppressed the communities they worked in. Boff claimed to find much of the justification for his work in Chapter 1, No. 8 of Lumen Gentium ("Light of the Nations"), a document from Vatican II.

Political Views

He is currently critical of non-religious powers as well considering George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon's leadership to be similar to that of "fundamentalist terrorist states." He has also made similar criticism of Islamic fundamentalists. Fact|date=September 2007

Boff said in an interview with the site "Comunità Italiana" (November 2001) about September 11 attacks on the United States of America: "For me, the terrorist attack of September 11 represents the shift towards a new humanitarian and world model. The targeted buildings send a message: a new world civilization couldn't 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 (White House spared, because the plane fell before). 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" ("Um dos piores fundamentalismos é aquele do neoliberalismo"). [ [http://www.comunitaitaliana.com.br/Entrevistas/boff.htm Interview to the Comunità Italiana] (in Portuguese)]

Break from Roman Catholic Church

Authorities in the Roman Catholic Church did not appreciate his criticism of Church 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 (now Pope Benedict XVI), silenced him for a year for his book "Church: Charism and Power". In the interview quoted above he accused Cardinal Ratzinger of "religious terrorism" ("terrorismo religioso").

He 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.

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 Heidelberg, Harvard University, University of Salamanca, University of Lisbon, University of Barcelona, University of Lund, University of Louvain, University of Paris, University of Oslo, University of Torino and others.

He has written more than 100 books, translated into the main languages of the world. In 2001 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in the Swedish Parliament.


He has received honorary doctorates, in Politics from the University of Turin and in Theology for the University of Lund. He has also been honored with various awards, within Brazil and the rest of the world, for his struggles on behalf of the weak, the oppressed and marginalized, and human rights.



*cite book |last=Cox |first=Harvey |authorlink=Harvey Cox |title=The silencing of Leonardo Boff: the Vatican and the future of world Christianity |publisher=Meyer-Stone Books |year=1988 |isbn=0-940989-35-2 |oclc=18193194 230967924

External links

* [http://www.leonardoboff.com/ Official home page]
* [http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Heroes/Leonardo_Boff.html Biography] . Third World Traveller
* [http://www.rightlivelihood.org/recip/boff.htm Leonardo Boff] . Right Livelihood Award website.
* [http://www.comunitaitaliana.com.br/Entrevistas/boff.htm Interview to the Comunita Italiana] (in Portuguese)

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