Archbishop Reinaldo Del Prette of Valencia (Venezuela) responded to the attacks by Hugo Chavez against the Church saying, “The Catholic Church is not political. To think thus is so warped and petty. The Church has been fulfilling her mission for twenty centuries and when she speaks, it is not out of partisan politics or as an opposition party. Which opposition party?” the prelate said.
In an interview with the Venezuelan daily El Carabobeño, the archbishop said, “If we were the opposition we would seek to gain power. We cannot hold any public office in any branch, whether electoral, judicial, legislative or executive. In this sense the Code of Canon Law is very clear. So we are not going there,” he stated.
“Where we see things that are not good for Venezuela because of our experience and our love for the country, we are going to speak up unashamedly because that is part of our mission,” the archbishop said.
Asked about his opinion regarding the attacks on the Church hierarchy by Hugo Chavez and his officials, Archbishop Del Prette said he had nothing to add to the latest statement by the bishops, which “caused the president and some members of his cabinet so much grief.”
“In that document we said nothing more than what we should have said. That is the normal position of an episcopate before a country that is decidedly on the path to Socialism,” the archbishop said, adding that Chavez’s reforms are cause for concern about the future of Venezuela.
He compared the actions of the Venezuelan bishops to those of Pope John Paul II, “who gave impetus to the Solidarity movement, a party born from the Polish trade unions, and who worked against absolute State-sponsored Socialism and Communism.” “Did he meddle in politics? I don’t think so. He was simply the supreme pastor of the Church whose principles were based on the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ and who said the right thing at the right time. We think the same,” Archbishop Del Prette said.
“Therefore Pope John XXIII was wise when he said the Church has been the mother and teacher of humanity during twenty centuries and has lived side by side with every kind of regimen,” he went on. “We knew Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Roosevelt. Today we are in the presence of other leaders: Chavez, Lula, Kirchner,” he said.