Cardinal Rosalio Jose Castillo Lara told reporters this week that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez “is not Catholic” and he expressed regret that Chavez has encouraged “the sowing of hatred that is bearing evil results.”
In an interview with the Italian daily La Tercera, the cardinal stated, “Chavez is not Catholic. He is whatever is convenient for him at the moment. When Chavez is with an evangelical, he is evangelical. When he visited Muammar Gaddafi he told him, ‘Allah is great.’ When he went to China, he praised Mao Tse-tung.”
“It is harmful that Venezuelans are divided, but the one behind this harm is Chavez, because since he came to power he has sowed hatred that is bearing evil results,” the cardinal said.
“Regarding the previous governments, the Church had no reason to be against them. The Bishops’ Conference has been very critical, even with Christian Democracy. What’s happening here is not that the Church is tied to the opposition, but rather there have been tortures and assassinations by the government,” Cardinal Castillo Lara noted, in response to accusations that he leads the principal opposition to the Chavez administration.
He explained that the errors of the opposition began four years ago, when the two main parties began to lose influence in recent administrations and fell into disarray. “The President took advantage of this situation in order to set himself up with a Constitution and a National Assembly in which he had the majority,” Cardinal Castillo Lara recalled.
He pointed to the need to follow article 350 of the country’s Constitution, which allows for civil disobedience, as in his judgment there is no guarantee of credibility in the next elections.