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Leonardo Boff was born in Brazil in 1938, received a doctorate from Munich in Germany in 1970, and for the following 20 years was Professor of Theology at the Jesuit Institute for Philosophy and Theology in Petropolis. Since 1993 he has been a Professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, where he is now Emeritus Professor of Ethics, Philosophy of Religion and Ecology. He is also member of the international initiative of the Earthcharter.
Boff was one of the founders of liberation theology. He was silenced by the Vatican in 1985 because of criticism of the Catholic Church in his book The Church, Charisma and Power. In 1992, receiving a second silencing order, he left the Franciscan order of which he was a member stating that "the future of humanity and planet earth" are more important than the future of the institutionalised church. He is, however, still active as a lay priest in poor communities, who are now finding a vision of social justice and community in the "comunidades de base" or 'Base Christian Communities'. There are more than 100.000 of these grassroots Christian groups in Brazil which attempt to fuse the teachings of Christ with a liberating social gospel. Boff believes these are the places where liberation theology is lived concretely, where the political dimensions of a liberating faith come into play, and where the poor can come to understand that poverty is not natural. The comunidades de base continue to spawn leaders who work on behalf of the poor - in trade unions, political parties and in community organisations. Boff has worked closely with the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST), a 1991 Right Livelihood Award Recipient.
Boff's more recent work has sought to integrate ecology into liberation theology. His book, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, is a synthesis of deep ecology thinking with radical social critique. One chapter celebrates St. Francis of Assisi as the paradigm of "the new covenant of the heart with all things", which is Boff's answer to the world's twin crises of poverty and ecological destruction. In 2009 The Tao of Liberation. An Exploration of the Ecology of Transformation (with Mark Hathaway) was released. Boff is the author of more than 70 books.
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