The president of the Committee for Media and Culture of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Baltazar Porras, denounced President Hugo Chavez for escalating his rhetoric against the Catholic Church, saying he is trying to distract Venezuelans from fundamental issues such as constitutional reform, the education of children and young people.
“I think we have seen an escalation since the month of May, when the president spoke out against Pope Benedict XVI and began a series of attacks on the Church, the latest of which was against Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga,” the archbishop told Union Radio.
Archbishop Porras said Chavez’s attacks are an attempt to politicize religion and set himself above the Church. He also said the Venezuelan leader is trying to distract the public from important issues that would have a great impact on the country, such as the proposal of no presidential term limits. “This is an attempt to distract public opinion and turn (the reform) into an issue that only interests one sector of society,” he warned.
The archbishop went on to note that the public is also being distracted from the growing crisis facing schools in Venezuela. Government subsidies have not been received in many places and school employees and teachers have not received their vacation pay. The result, he said, is that “the schools are sinking.”
Archbishop Porras also denounced the Chavez government for seeking to indoctrinate students from pre-school all the way up to the post-graduate level. The government, he said, is seeking to impose “one way of viewing and thinking about society and the world” upon the entire country, and that such a policy poses serious risks for civil rights.
Such a policy is “the absolute negation of authentic democracy and pluralism,” he added.