by Juan Arias (English translation by Rebel Girl)
July 23, 2013
On arriving in Brazil, the Pope asked for a copy of the recently published book by "rebel" theologian Leonardo Boff titled Francisco de Assis e Francisco de Roma, where he analyzes the breakthrough this Pope is bringing to the Church with a return to the origins of Christianity.
"I gave the book to the Archbishop of Rio, Msgr. Orani Tempesta, and he's already given it to the Pope," Boff confirmed, as he was leaving for the airport for two meetings with more than a thousand young people in Santa Catarina and Sao Paulo.
On the possibility that Francis might want to meet with the Brazilian theologian who was sentenced to silence by his predecessor Benedict XVI when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Boff explained: "I couldn't get out of a commitment that I've had for a long time with the young people to whom I'm going to be speaking. Therefore, I'm only going to be in Rio on Saturday, the last day of the Pope's visit."
Howver, Boff confided the following: "A friend of the Pope's from when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, with whom Francis talks on the phone every week, told me she asked the Pope if he intended to receive me and his answer was 'I want to do it, but only after I've finished the reform of the Curia.'"
Such a meeting would then be official, which doesn't preclude that Francis, being in Rio, might meet at some point with the Franciscan theologian, now a staunch supporter of the revolution he's carrying out in the Church, and that Boff calls a "breakthrough."
Boff confirmed in his conversation with me what he stated to O Globo -- that Francis could rehabilitate the more than 500 theologians condemned by the Church during the years when it was ruled by Ratzinger and Wojtyla, but that he doesn't think he'll do it "as long as Benedict XVI is alive."
Boff told me that Pope Francis has accepted the most primitive concept of liberation theology in his program. "Remember, Juan, that theologian Carlos Scanone, who launched that theology in Argentina, was a professor of Bergoglio, the future pope, when he was teaching theology in a school on the outskirts of Buenos Aires."
Boff pointed out that Scanone developed a liberation theology that was tied to "populist theology", different in some ways from the one that was developed later by the current that was inspired by the theory of Marxism which claims to rescue the poor and excluded through changing political structures. According to Scanone's theology, it's the people who must carry out their own liberation from the power structures that enslave them.
"In that sense, we could say that Francis is a liberation theologian along the lines developed by Scanone, which was the one that in some ways supported some of the attitudes of Peronism," Boff added.
About the possibility that the Curia, in line with the doctrine of Machiavelli's The Prince, would use any means to keep itself in power and might boycott Francis' renewal, Boff explains that it's possible they might try. However, he also recalls that this Pope, in addition to having chosen the simple spirit of Francis of Assisi, "is also a Jesuit." I asked him what that meant, and Boff answered, smiling, "It means this -- that he's also a son of Ignatius of Loyola, the great strategist of the Society of Jesus, which has persisted up to now, passing through all the storms against it, not just from the Curia, but even from more than one Pope who ended up dissolving it, to resurrect with ever greater strength." Once persecuted by the Church of Rome, the Society today effectively has a pope all its own. Francis is well supported.