PopeWatch: Leonardo Boff

Good Lifesite News article on the longstanding ties between the Pope and the godfather of liberation theology Leonardo Boff:


A 47 year-old photograph has surfaced showing the man who would become Pope Francis standing in a small group of people, one of whom is a Brazilian Liberation-theology proponent and priest who would become laicized and who is now widely credited for being the “theologian of reference” for the upcoming controversial Amazon synod. The picture takes on significance due to the claim of the laicized priest that Pope Francis remembered their meeting in 1972 and had recently sent him the photo. 

On August 5, Leonardo Boff placed on his twitter a picture from a conference that took place in San Miguel, Argentina on February 23-29, 1972 and that shows both Boff and then-Father Jorge Bergoglio, the later Pope Francis. Boff says that the Pope had just sent him this picture, recalling their time together. 

“In an exchange of letters, Pope Francis recalled our meeting in San Miguel-AR [Argentina] from 23-29/02/1972 and sent me this photo,” Boff writes.


This incident suggests that Pope Francis and Leonardo Boff have had a friendly relationship long before Bergoglio became pope in 2013. As a matter of fact, Boff claimed in 2016 – in an interview with the Kölner Stadt-Anzeigr – that Pope Francis is “one of us. He has turned Liberation Theology into a common property of the Church. And he has widened it.” 

‘You will be astonished what Francis will achieve’

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel days after Jorge Bergoglio’s papal election, Boff revealed that he knew Bergoglio personally. “Yes, [I met him] a few years ago [sic], at a conference in Argentina. He made a wise presentation there, we liked each other immediately.” (It is not clear whether Boff refers here to the 1972 conference, which took place much earlier than only “a few years ago.”)

In that same 2013 interview, Boff announced: “He [Bergoglio] is now Pope. He can [do] everything. You will be astonished what Francis will achieve.” 

“But for that,” Boff continued, “there is needed a breach with traditions. Away from the corrupt Curia of the Vatican, toward a Universal Church. And toward new, central topics: the gap between the poor and the rich, the lack of justice. It is revolutionary what has happened there in Rome: a religious from Latin American is being elected onto the Chair of Peter.” 

Boff defends Pope Francis in the Spiegel interview against the suspicion that he is an “arch-conservative,” that he is opposed to contraception, married priests and a larger role of women in the Church. “The Vatican prescribed it that way, all high-ranking prelates had to file suit there. Nothing was to be questioned. But that can change now.”

Boff also predicts the longer-range agenda of Pope Francis, and does it just a few days after his election. When asked as to whether he had indications that Bergoglio “thinks in more liberal terms,” the liberation theologian answers: “Yes. A few months ago, for example, he explicitly permitted that a homosexual couple could adopt a child. He kept contact with priests who were rejected by the official Church because they had married. And he never let himself be distracted from his own line. And that was: We have to be on the side of the poor, and if need be, also in contradiction to those in power.”

Go here to read the rest.  The heterodox in the Church always knew what they were getting in Pope Francis.  Too many of the orthodox engaged in willful blindness and wishful thinking in regard to Francis, and we see how that has worked out.

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  1. Possibly of related interest:

    The ascendancy of Pope Francis this decade has revealed the real essence of the global Church with all of its contradictions. Both liberal and conservative, intellectually derivative and addicted to saccharine kitsch, the actual position of the Catholic Church remains indecisive. Should it fully transition into modernity or pull back into the barracks of reaction? I don’t think the issue will be resolved any time soon.

  2. Historical analogies should only be attempted by people who actually know the history, and that would appear to leave Mr. Vasquez out. (John Paul II as Bonaparte? Please! I wonder who he sees in the Napoleon III role?)

  3. It wasn’t his analogy, it was Ratzinger’s. I didn’t care for it at first, but after rereading, I think there is something to the idea of the papacy of JP II being a Bonapartist one. In a 19th century Romantic Great Man of History bestriding the world stage like a Colossus sense, if that makes sense.

  4. Agreed Bonaparte was notable for his rationalizing tendencies and his territorial ambition. Both John Paul and Benedict proceeded gingerly toward their ends. The only common feature I can think of is that neither John Paul nor Bonaparte were advocates of a Restoration. Neither, in the most thorough sense of the term, was Louis XVIII. (Charles X was. You can see where that landed him). One of the disappointing things about John Paul is how little he found the ruin of the liturgy a motivator. See Christopher Ferrara on this point: Okham’s razor suggests he wasn’t bothered by it. It took 27 years to wring out of the Vatican a general permission to priests to use the 1962 missal. I’m not sure the old mass is any more prevalent than it was 15 years ago.

  5. I’d like a Pope who doesn’t travel or say much, but quietly appoints the most faithful bishops he can locate and whose utterances are all formal and dedicated to correcting the most troublesome documents out of the Holy See in this era. A talent for cleaning the crooks out of the Vatican would be welcome as well.

  6. It wasn’t his analogy, it was Ratzinger’s.

    I’ll be happy to read it if you link to it, but I can think of few historical figures less similar than John Paul II and the crowned bandit from Corsica.

  7. I should clarify, and thank you for keeping me honest. The original analogy, i.e. Vatican II was the Church’s French Revolution, was Ratzinger’s. Velasquez extended that to the Popes of the Vatican II era. Unfortunately, he doesn’t offer a source for his assertion of Ratzinger’s analogy. I’ll see what I can find in the ether.

    To my mind, the relevant point is this:
    “If his [i.e. Paul VI’s] court represented the Jacobins, Bonaparte came in the form of a prelate from Poland, the now sainted Karol Wojtyla or John Paul II. Even though he eschewed the tiara and other traditional marks of Papal authority and gravitas, his rule by charisma and geopolitical power-plays [emph. add.] invoked the famed French general who conquered Europe and crowned himself emperor. Such a regime had the character of authority but was based on the previous revolt that congealed into the rule of one figure who survived the political tumult. The papacy of John Paul II was marked by a revolutionary impulse[.]

  8. Closest thing I could find on the web is Marcel Lefebvre comparing Vatican II to the French Revolution.

    Which, come to think of it, actually makes more sense than Joseph Ratzinger making that analogy.

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