Brothers split on liberation theology

Brazilian liberation theologians Leonardo and Fr Clodovis Boff have split after the latter published an article critical of what he describes as "the principal error" of liberation theology.

Chiesa reports the first blow fell a few months ago with the article published by Clodovis in a Brazilian theological journal.

But the second blow hit even harder, Chiesa says, with a harsh reply to the article by Clodovis Boff by his even more famous brother, Leonardo.

The paths of the two brothers separated and then clashed over precisely what had united them before, namely liberation theology.

With his essay, published last year in the "Revista Eclesiástica Brasileira" (run by the Franciscans of Brazil, and directed from 1972 until 1986 by his brother Leonardo), Clodovis Boff had broken with this theological current, or better, with "the principal error" upon which, in his judgment, it is founded.

For his part, Leonardo Boff, in his reply published at the end of May, remains absolutely firm on that same principle: "From the moment when God became man-poor, man-poor became the measure of all things."

Leonardo Boff, who describes himself as a "theologus peregrinus", without a stable home, was banned from teaching in Catholic theology faculties in a 1985 sentence from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, caused mainly by his book "Church, Charism and Power: Liberation Theology and the Institutional Church". He left the Franciscan order and married.

Clodovis Boff, instead, is still a member of the Servants of Mary. He lives in Curitiba, in the state of Paraná, and teaches at the Pontifical Catholic University in the city. He has never been tried by the CDF, but during the 1980's he lost his teaching post at the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, and was banned from teaching at the "Marianum," the theological faculty of his order, in Rome.

His brother Leonardo remembers that while Clodovis supported liberation theology, "he spent half the year among the base communities, offering courses for ordinary people and going up and down the rivers to visit the people in the forest.

"He dedicated the other half of the year to teaching and research at the university of Rio."

Leonardo Boff now says that Clodovis has passed over body and soul to maintaining "with naive optimism and youthful enthusiasm" the approach dictated by the Latin American bishops at their continental conference held in Aparecida, Brazil, in May of 2007, and inaugurated by Benedict XVI in person.

According to Chiesa, Clodovis Boff's replacement as theology professor in Rio de Janeiro, Filippo Santoro, an Italian now bishop of Petrópolis and a member of Communion and Liberation, who most inspired and most closely followed his "conversion," which took several years and was finally expressed in the essay published in the "Revista Eclesiástica Brasileira."


Clodovis and Leonardo Boff, Separated Brethren (Chiesa, 14/7/08)


Leonardo Boff (Wikipedia)

Clodovis Boff (Sedos)

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