.- The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is demanding that Pope Benedict XVI apologize to the indigenous peoples of Latin America for having “denied” the “aboriginal holocaust” during his discourse inaugurating the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Conference.
“Something 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,” Chavez said over the weekend on Venezuelan radio and television.
“So, 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,” 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 Venezuela’s Minister for the Indigenous Peoples, Nizia Maldonado, who said she did not share the Pope’s opinion and that it was “difficult to support, for God’s sake!”
“Is that why the Catholic Church is losing more believers every day?” Chavez said. “I think it’s because of this.”
Chavez said that the Pope’s 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 “these statements only weaken the Catholic Church more.”
“How 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 that’s practically what he said, that there was no imposition,” Chavez said.
The Venezuelan president said he would call the Vatican “right away,” because, he said, “tomorrow we will wake up to the headlines saying ‘Chavez attacks the Pope’.”
“I don’t care, they can say what they want, in speaking the truth I am not offending anyone nor do I have any fear.” “I don’t care what they say in their 60 second sound bites on the news,” Chavez stated.