Below is the translation published in Rorate Caeli of the full text of the interview granted by former priest and Liberation Theology master Leonardo Boff to Erich Follath, of German weekly Der Spiegel. Leonardo Boff is one of the main proponents of the Liberation Theology movement condemned by both St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He has since left the priesthood, and currently lives with his lover. He has claimed that Pope Francis has asked for his help in writing the pope’s upcoming Encyclical on the environment.
S: Professor Boff, were you surprised, ecstatic, or horrified when you heard about who was elected in Rome?
Boff: I had hoped that the new Pope would take the name Francis – and had predicted that it would happen this way. In this sense my reaction was one of great satisfaction, coupled with the hope that something would finally change in this catastrophically antiquated church. For this choice of name is programmatic: Francis of Assisi stands for a church of the poor and the oppressed, for environmental awareness and against great love of pomp and circumstance.
And you are not disappointed that Cardinal Odilo Scherer from Sao Paulo wasn’t elected at the conclave?
Boff: Good heavens! Anything is better than Ratzinger on the throne of Peter, to be sure, but Scherer is an arch-conservative who has adopted all the positions of the curia. The fact that the new Pope hails from South America, from the region with the most Catholics in the world, and not, as was customary, from Europe – that is something I am happy about…
You sound surprisingly euphoric, even though the new Pope is an arch-conservative – he opposes contraception, allowing priests to marry, an expanded role of women in the church, homosexual marriage…
Boff: That’s something the Vatican decreed; all high-ranking dignitaries had to go along with it. Nothing was allowed to be questioned. That can change now.
You have reason to believe that Bergoglio is more liberal?
Boff: Yes. For example, a few months ago he explicitly permitted a homosexual couple to adopt a child. He kept in touch with priests who were expelled from the official church because they had gotten married. And no one could ever persuade him to change his position, which was: we have to be on the side of the poor, even if it means opposing the powerful.
This article was originally published in Rorate Caeli