Catholic Church in Venezuela Braces for Uncertain Times After Chavez
The socialist dictator, who once was very close to the Church, became more antagonistic after his 2000 re-election, but he reportedly reconciled prior to his death.
BY ALEJANDRO BERMUDEZ
| Posted 3/6/13 at 6:37 PM
ROME “We are prayerful; we are ready for uncertain times.”
This was the brief response Cardinal Jorge Urosa Sabino, archbishop of Venezuela, gave to the Register early today in Rome in reaction to the news that the charismatic and controversial Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez had finally succumbed to cancer.
Cardinal Urosa, who is in Rome to participate in the conclave, also announced that he will celebrate in Rome “a public Mass to pray for the eternal repose of President Chavez.”
The death of Chavez was announced March 5 by Venezuela Vice President Nicolás Maduro. Military troops were immediately deployed in the country’s major cities, but most of the people who took to the streets were there to mourn Chavez’s death.
A former paratrooper who led a failed coup against President Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992, Chavez was elected president of Venezuela in 1998. He subsequently introduced a new constitution that extended presidential terms, allowed re-election and altered the structure of the government. In 2000, he won re-election.
During his first two years of government, Chavez seemed very close to the Catholic Church: As a divorcee who could not take Communion, he nevertheless devoutly participated at major Catholic events, took on the bishops’ call for major economic reforms to reduce poverty in the oil-rich country and was outspoken in protecting the unborn and traditional marriage. (...)
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