Cardinal calls for referendum after Chavez govt. boots religion classes

.- The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, has called on Venezuelans to do more than just complain about the new education law canceling all religion classes in state-run schools. Instead, he urged his countrymen to to work against the new laws, pointing to the fact that they can be submitted to a constitutional review through a national referendum.

During a television interview, the cardinal referred to the recent laws on education and said Venezuelans should use every means possible to defend “a series of rights that cannot be taken away.”

The recent law on education was passed by the National Assembly without input from opposition leaders and others who called for more debate and consensus on the plan.

Cardinal Urosa slammed the government for fostering confrontation instead of unity among Venezuelans.  He also rejected comments by National Assembly Vice President Saul Ortega, who called the cardinal a liar. “It’s one thing to have differing views from those of government representatives, it’s quite another to tell lies,” he stressed.

The cardinal said religious education in schools is not a privilege of the Church—as the government claims—but rather a service that has been rendered to the Venezuelan people “for centuries” and a right that cannot be abrogated with the stroke of a pen.

Cardinal Urosa noted there was widespread opposition to the new laws on education, especially from teachers and from some media outlets.  The country’s bishops oppose the measure because it promotes a secularist education, “taking away the right of children to receive religious education in accord with the parents’ preferences.”

The Church will do everything possible to continue providing religious education, in accord with the law, he said, adding that after school ends it is almost impossible to bring “that uplifting spiritual and moral [message] to Venezuelan kids.”

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