“As long as Ratzinger lives, it’s not good for Francis to have me in Rome”

Publicado: julio 24, 2013 en Iglesia, Noticias

Río de Janeiro 

Genézio Darci Boff, (Santa Catarina, 1938), arrives looking like a mischievous druid priest, with a sly smile and wild gestures, as if he were chasing something in the air. Boff, the priest and advocate of liberation theology who was condemned to ”penitential silence” by Joseph Ratzinger in 1985 after the publication of his book,Church, Charism and Power – a torpedo launched against the Vatican establishment and its popes, returns to the stage to announce the arrival of the Church of the Third Millennium. According to Leonardo Boff, as he is better known, this new Church, headed by Pope Francis will “smell like sheep and not like altar flowers.”

Question: What can we expect from Pope Francis?

Answer: The pope who is coming, Francisco, lends his name to a new vision of the Church. A poor, humble church, stripped of power. A church that will maintain a dialogue with the people. We hope that he will inaugurate the Church of the Third Millennium. I also think that he will create a dynasty of Third World popes.

Q: You have been a vocal dissident of the Catholic Church and one of the toughest critics of the last few popes. Why are you so optimistic about Pope Francis?

A: I think he is very brave. He has stood with the poor and against injustice. The current Church has courtly and princely traditions. This pope has indicated that he wants a different kind of church, of the poor for the poor. And, this is the legacy of Liberation Theology. He will cut off the traditional ways of the cardinals and bishops.

Q: For years the Church in Brazil has been losing members en masse. Do you think Francis’ arrival will help halt this trend?

A: I’m sure many Protestants will participate in the events at World Youth Day. But I don’t see any harm in having many different Christian faiths. It’s largely the fault of the Catholic Church because for the number of the members that we do have we should be able to count on 120,000 priests. Instead we only have 17,000. Logistically speaking the Church has failed.

Q: Are you considering returning to the Church under this new pope?

A: I have always considered myself a Catholic theologian who has never abandoned the Church. I have always said that I moved to another trench but that I’m still in the same battle. Therefore my ecclesiastical work continues even though I have gotten married. If the Pope were to end obligatory celibacy I would return to the Church.

Q: Do you think Bergoglio could end obligatory celibacy?

A: I think there is that possibility because Francisco comes from the Third World where celibacy was never an important virtue. He could take two steps. First, recognize that there are 100,000 married priests within the Church and allow them to continue their work. Second, he could propose optional celibacy. All other faiths have done this. The Catholic Church is the only one who resists. And with this tradition it does great harm.

Q: Do you plan on meeting with Bergoglio?

A: I don’t want to force the situation. He has already said that he’d like to have me visit him in Rome but first he must reform the Vatican government. As long as Benedict XVI is alive it would not be good for Francis to invite me to Rome because Ratzinger and I had a dispute over doctrine. Still, Francis is open to receiving me in Rome and we have been in contact.

Q: Would you like to take advantage of the fact that the pope is here in Brazil and meet with him?

A: I would like to. I have written a book called Francis of Assisi, Francis of Rome and I would like to give it to him personally. But as I said, I don’t want to force the situation which could be misinterpreted in the press and create a problem for the pope. The old Vatican could see it as something strange, even offensive.

Q: Do you think liberation theology will experience a revival?

A: I think so. Liberation theology was born as an answer to the cries of the oppressed. Pope Francis’ ways favor this doctrine. It would probably be better not to mention it because it could be controversial.

Q: How do you see the future of Catholicism in Latin America?

A: I think that in the future Latin America will not be a Christian region. I think it will have a new religion with many Christian elements like the saints, the Mass, the rites of baptism, communion and marriage but also with elements from the indigenous traditions and African religions.

Translation: Dyane Jean François


  1. […] “As long as Ratzinger lives, it’s not good for Francis to have me in Rome” (pueblodedioslutheranchurch.wordpress.com) […]


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