Leonardo BOFF, Francis of Assisi: A Model for Human Liberation. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2006. pp. 161. $16.00 pb. ISBN -13 978-1-57075-680-1.
Reviewed by John MOSSI, S.J., Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, 99258

Francis of Assisi: A Model for Human Liberation is a twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Leonard Boff's earlier work, Francis of Assisi. In a new preface, Boff states that the poverello Francis "has become an archetype of the human ideal: open to God, universal brother, and caretaker of nature and of Mother Earth. He belongs not only to Christianity but to all humankind."

The genius of this classic work is that Boff is able to communicate with compelling urgency the essential frameworks of liberation theology through the figure of the well known and beloved Saint Francis. Boff, who artfully blends liberation theory and praxis with the personality of Francis, explores the relevance of the spirituality of Francis to our modern day world of consumerism with its disregard for the poor and toxic violations of nature. In response to our post-modern depression, Boff sees the need for the societal creation of compassion, joy, optimism and hope that was part of the daily fabric of the life of Francis.

Francis of Assisi is a serious, intellectual book that is well documented with an emphasis on early Franciscan sources as well as contemporary writings of philosophers, psychologists and theologians. Its chapters on Gentleness and Care, Preferential Option for the Poor, Liberation through Goodness and Integration of the Negative will help you to think, and then again, re-think your own lifestyle, spirituality, social justice responsibilities, and understanding of church.

This was my initial read of Boff's Francis. Orbis has done the Church and the liberation community an immense favor by bringing back to our consciousness the vision of Francis through the liberation lens of Boff. While Francis lived eight hundred years ago, his spirit of simplicity, poverty, concern for the poor, community, respect for nature, rebuilding of church, and freedom for service have much to contribute and challenge similar issues today. This is a book that is highly recommended for discussion groups, social justice, spirituality or Christian anthropology classes, or general spiritual reading.


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