Text adapted from Creative Commons article on Wikipedia.
Leonardo Boff was born 14 December 1938 in Concórdia, Santa Catarina state, Brazil. He is a theologian and writer, known for his active support for the rights of the poor and excluded. He currently serves as Professor Emeritus of Ethics, Philosophy of Religion and Ecology at the Rio de Janeiro State University.
Boff entered the Franciscan Order in 1959 and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1964. He spent the following years studying for a doctorate in theology andphilosophy at the University of Munich, which he received in 1970. Boff’s doctoral thesis studied in what measure the church can be a sign of the sacred and the divine in the secular world and in the process of liberation of the oppressed. He has since published his thesis as a book available in German, entitled Die Kirche als Sakrament im Horizont der Welterfahrung .
He became one of the best known supporters (along with Gustavo Gutiérrez) of the early Liberation theologians. He was present in the first reflections that sought to articulate indignation against misery and marginalization with promissory discourse of the faith, leading to Liberation theology. He continues to be a controversial figure in the Catholic Church, primarily for his sharp criticism of the church’s hierarchy, which he sees as “fundamentalist”, but also for his past critical support of communist régimes.
He is critical of secular power as well of American foreign policy. He opposed the Iraq War and considered George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon’s leadership to be similar to that of “fundamentalist terrorist states.” He also criticizes despotic rulers in the Middle East: “Those [emirs and kings] are despotic, they do not even have a constitution. Though extremely rich, they maintain the people in poverty.”  Boff said in an interview with the site “Comunità Italiana” (November 2001) about September 11 attacks on the United States of America: “For me, the terrorist attack of September 11 represents the shift towards a new humanitarian and world model. The targeted buildings sent a message: a new world civilization cannot be built with the kind of dominating economy (symbolized by the World Trade Center), with the kind of death machine set up (the Pentagon) and with the kind of arrogant politics and producer of many exclusions (…) For me the system and culture of capital began to collapse. They are too destructive.” In the same interview he said that “One of the worst fundamentalisms is that of neoliberalism”.
Authorities in the Roman Catholic Church did not appreciate his criticism of the church’s leadership. They also felt his human rights advocacy had “politicized everything” and accused him of Marxism. In 1985, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, directed at that time by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), silenced him for a year for his book Church: Charism and Power . In the interview quoted above he accused Cardinal Ratzinger of “religious terrorism” ( terrorismo religioso ). He was almost silenced again in 1992 by Rome, this time to prevent him from participating in the Eco-92 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which finally led him to leave the Franciscan religious order and the priestly ministry. Boff joined the international group of Catholic Scholars who in 2012 issued the Jubilee Declaration on reform of authority in the Catholic Church.  For most of his life Boff has worked as a professor in the academic fields of theology, ethics and philosophy throughout Brazil and also as lecturer in many universities abroad such as University of Lisbon,University of Barcelona, University of Lund, University of Oslo, University of Torino and others.