Special Report: Devil in Rome premieres Monday, Aug. 22 at 8 PM ET
BERLIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - The main figurehead of liberation theology in the 1980s is praising Pope Francis, and criticizing the signatories of the recently sent dubia. Leonardo Boff, a main proponent for liberation theology in Brazil throughout his life, gave an interview to the German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger in Berlin, which was published on Christmas.
Boff entered the Franciscan order in 1959 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1964, where he became a controversial figure with his prominent advocacy of left-wing causes. During his priesthood, he became a vocal critic of capitalism and a strong proponent of liberation theology.
Liberation theology is a religious movement that offers a Marxist understanding of poverty and oppression, and which had its start in South America in the 1960s. One KGB defector who later converted to Catholicism claimed it was a movement created by the KGB and spread by willing South American bishops.
Boff's advocacy of political and social causes eventually caught up with him, as the Church forbade Boff from speaking in public in 1985 after the release of his book "Church: Charism and Power." When faced with censure from Rome for planning to participate in the Eco-92 Earth Summit, Boff finally decided to leave the Franciscan order as well as the priesthood.
When asked to explain his decision, Boff said, "Everything has a limit, and I had arrived at my limit."
In his Christmas interview, he spoke at length about Pope Francis and his relationship with liberation theology.
"Francis is one of us," Boff claimed. "He has made liberation theology the common property of the Church. And he has extended them. Those who speak of the poor must also speak of the earth today because they are also plundered and desecrated."
Boff confessed that Pope Francis had been in contact with him for writing "Laudato Si" and had consulted with him when writing the encyclical.
He asked me for material for "Laudato Si." I gave him my advice and sent some of what I have written. He also used it. Some people have told me that they had thought when they read it: "That's Boff!" By the way, Pope Francis said to me, "Boff, please do not send the papers directly to me."
When Boff asked the Holy Father why he couldn't send the papers straight to him, Francis remarked that the Vatican bureaucracy wouldn't approve and might intercept the papers.
Pope Francis met in September 2013 with Gustavo Gutiérrez, who had a prominent role in founding liberation theology in South America, which was seen as a sign of Rome moderating its stance towards liberation theology. The canonization of Abp. Oscar Romero in 2015, a legendary figure in the liberation theology movement, was also seen by some as a positive overture toward the movement.
Boff went on to say, "He has sought reconciliation with the most important representatives of liberation theology, with Gustavo Gutiérrez, Jon Sobrino, and also with me."
Later on in the interview, Boff criticized the letter sent by four cardinals in November asking for clarification on certain theological matters in "Amoris Laetitia."
The Pope feels the sharpness of the wind from his own ranks, especially from the USA. This Cdl. Burke, Leo Burke, who has now written a letter together with your Cologne Cardinal Meisner, is the Donald Trump of the Catholic Church. But unlike Trump, Burke is now cold in the Curia. Thank God. These people actually believe they should correct the Pope. As if they were above the Pope.
He went on to comment on certain reforms that could possibly happen in the future. "Who knows? Perhaps female deaconesses, or the possibility that married priests can be used again in pastoral care."
"If the many thousands of married priests were to be able to exercise their office again," he continued, "this would be a first step towards the improvement of the situation — and at the same time an impulse that the Catholic Church would loose the fetters of the obligation of celibacy."