.- The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is demanding that Pope Benedict XVI apologize to the indigenous peoples of Latin America for having âdeniedâ the âaboriginal holocaustâ during his discourse inaugurating the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishopsâ Conference.
âSomething much more serious occurred here than during the holocaust of World War II, and nobody can deny that this is true, and neither can his Holiness come here, to our own land, and deny the aboriginal holocaust,â Chavez said over the weekend on Venezuelan radio and television.
âSo, as a head of State, but clad in the humility of a Venezuelan farmworker, I implore his Holiness to apologize to the peoples of our America,â Chavez demanded.
Chavez said he paid close attention to everything the Pope said in Brazil, and that after hearing him say that the gospel was not imposed upon the natives, he called Venezuelaâs Minister for the Indigenous Peoples, Nizia Maldonado, who said she did not share the Popeâs opinion and that it was âdifficult to support, for Godâs sake!â
âIs that why the Catholic Church is losing more believers every day?â Chavez said. âI think itâs because of this.â
Chavez said that the Popeâs comments that the evangelization of Latin America was not the imposition of a foreign culture, seemed to be intended to strengthen the Catholic Church, but âthese statements only weaken the Catholic Church more.â
âHow can the Pope say here, in this land, where the bones of the native martyrs who were massacred by the rule of the European empires are still warm, how can he say, because thatâs practically what he said, that there was no imposition,â Chavez said.
The Venezuelan president said he would call the Vatican âright away,â because, he said, âtomorrow we will wake up to the headlines saying âChavez attacks the Popeâ.â
âI donât care, they can say what they want, in speaking the truth I am not offending anyone nor do I have any fear.â âI donât care what they say in their 60 second sound bites on the news,â Chavez stated.