A former Franciscan priest, Leonardo Boff of Brazil, who left the priesthood and the Franciscan order several years ago after his writings were condemned by the Holy See, said the decision by the Vatican to silence Father Jon Sobrino would mark a resurgence of Marxist theology in Latin America.

Boff, who together with Sobrino, Gustavo Gutierrez, and Juan Luis Segundo, was one of the most outspoken proponents of this theology, which had a significant impact on the life of the Church in Latin America, came out with a harsh reaction to the decision by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to censure several theological works by Sobrino.

In statements to the AFP news agency, Boff said Sobrino “is one of the most serious, most evangelical, and I would say one of the holiest theologians that we have.  For this reason, the condemnation against him is especially grave.”

“I think a condemnation such as this cheats many of the poor, because Jon Sobrino was always an ally of the poor. And the Church may be able to disappoint the rich, but she cannot betray the poor,” Boff said during a visit to the capital of Costa Rica for the opening of a special course of the University of Costa Rica.

Boff asserted that “liberation theology is alive and well in Latin America, Asia and Africa, although the controversy surrounding its tenets has lessened in recent years.”  

“The theologians of liberation theology continue to work,” he said, adding that the censure of John Sobrino “may life the spirits of those Christians who are followers of liberation theology.”

In its statement against Fr. Sobrino’s work, the Vatican strongly emphasized the necessity of caring for the poor, but pointed out numerous errors in Sobrino’s approach to “the methodological presuppositions on which the [Sobrino] bases his theological reflection, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of the Son of God, the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, the Self-consciousness of Jesus, and the salvific value of His Death.”