Boff, brother of celebrated liberation theologian and former Catholic priest Leonardo Boff, insists in a new book that liberation theology’s emphasis on material well-being rather than spiritual growth led many to reject the Catholic faith in favor of biblical Protestantism or no faith at all.
When liberation theology began to gain ground in Brazil in the late 1960s, the country’s population was more than 90 percent Catholic. In the decades since then, the percentage of Catholics in the Brazilian population has plummeted to around 51 percent.
Even among those Brazilians who still call themselves Catholics, only about eight percent attend Mass on Sunday, one of the lowest rates in the world. This trend was fueled by the spread of liberation theology, Boff contends.
“It is necessary for the Church to once again emphasize Christ as priest, as master and Lord, and not just in the fight against poverty and the climate crisis,” Boff declared at the launch of the book The Crisis in the Catholic Church and Liberation Theology, co-authored with Father Leandro Rasera and recently published by Ecclesiae.
With Liberation Theology, “faith is instrumentalized in terms of the poor,” Boff writes, parting ways with his brother Leonardo. “One falls into utilitarianism or functionalism in relation to the Word of God and to theology in general.”
In a striking revelation in 2015, Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest ranking Cold War defector, declared that the KGB had created liberation theology, exporting it to Latin America as a means of introducing Marxism into the continent.
“Liberation theology has been generally understood to be a marriage of Marxism and Christianity. What has not been understood is that it was not the product of Christians who pursued Communism, but of Communists who pursued Christians,” Pacepa said.