by Angel Bartolomé (Translation by Rebel Girl)
The first thing that drew Brazilian Jesuit [Sic. Translator's note: Actually Leonardo was never a Jesuit. He is an ex-Franciscan] Leonardo Boff's attention yesterday after stepping onto Alicante soil was the heat of November. "This is a consequence of global warming. It seems like we are in Brazil." He oozes intelligence from every pore. He enjoys an enviable mental agility and eloquence that those who presume themselves to be scholars would wish for themselves. But an aura of humility makes his figure grander, with an ample head of hair streaked with white.
- What are you doing in Alicante?
- I am on a European tour to warn of the consequences of climate change and the measures to be taken if we don't want there to be an ecological disaster that could destroy the planet soon.
- Where have you been?
- I have come from Austria and Switzerland, where there is a huge concern. Now in Spain I have met with fifty entrepreneurs to address global warming of the Earth and create new habits that will emerge from the crisis.
- The problem is that bad?
- Society has a collective responsibility that must be addressed in a supportive way. What can we expect from the global crisis? We will be in a tragic situation if there is not a qualitative leap in the defense of nature; we are on the road to tragedy.
- What should we do?
- My thesis is to shape a solution based on the Earth Charter. It's a social question, one of solidarity , but also an ecological one.
- How is that done?
- In Brazil, through the Petrópolis program, we have applied liberation theology in the neighborhoods, with legal advice in order to reach young people and street people, but also victims of domestic violence.
- What do they do?
- We developed the Pão e Beleza (Bread and Beauty) program. It consists first of a good bath and then dinner and then gets to beauty.
- Taking on the problems through dialogue, solidarity and personal effort.
- Need Help?
- We got Lula to get involved and the cost of food and cleanliness come from the Administration.
- You spoke of new habits. What would those be?
- We come from an economy based on exploitation of the Earth's resources for human consumption. This system has brought great benefits but only for a small part of humanity. Noam Chomsky says there are three people that the world that produce more income than 40 countries together. Wealth is concentrated in a few people. This creates injustice and tremendous ecological and social inequality.
- Hence the warming?
- We have devoured the Earth's resources. We can not continue. We're headed for a humanitarian catastrophe. If warming continues into the year 2038, droughts and floods will destroy the planet.
- The consumer has to be more frugal and supportive.
- You were one of the protagonists of liberation theology. You confronted the Church hierarchy but now you seem more concerned about climate change than theology. Why?
- I still believe in liberation theology. But it's always open. Under construction. The main thing is to listen to the cries of the oppressed but also to listen to the cry of the earth, the cry of poverty. I have not abandoned my ideas, not in the slightest.
- What can you say about how the Catholic Church is today?
- Regretably, I see that the Church is not mobilized against the ecological crisis. It is not up to the world's needs. There is a deficit. Other churches, yes, but not the Catholic one. We must work quickly and together.
- You think it's that bad?
- The current pope has made a huge effort to strengthen the Church and abandon the dialogue with other faiths. That is a mistake. As is distancing himself from Jews and Muslims and growing closer to Lefebvre and resurrecting Latin. We must rebel against this internal shift. Today the challenge is to help get out of the ecological and social crisis. The Catholic Church has lost his way.
- What do you think of the Spanish Catholic Church?
- I can not talk about it because I do not know it; what I can say instead is that there are magnificent Spanish priests in Brazil with some exceptional qualities, such as Father Casaldáliga.
- Is there a crisis of vocations?
- We live in a time of return to spirituality. People are very tired of materialism. There is a search for new non-material dimensions. But young people ahve not found an answer in the Church because it is a very rigid institution. Spirituality must be sought outside of official doctrine.
- Humankind needs dreams. Religion is a source of dreams. Life is not just entertainment and consumption. Thus the human being feels empty.
- Global domination is in the hands of the G-20 but everyone else is ignored. Humanity consumes 30% more resources than what is available and the problem of drinking water is tremendous. We must listen to the poor and take solidarity measures.