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Venezuelan archbishop skeptical of Chavez, but hopes for authentic conversion

.- The vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Roberto Luckert Leon of Coro said yesterday he hoped President Hugo Chavez’s recent “message of love” was reflective of a true conversion, but that the test of a conversion is in the good works which flow from it.

As presidential elections in Venezuela draw near, Chavez has changed the tone of his campaign.   After years of verbal attacks against his opposition and anyone not of like mind, Chavez now says he did everything “for love” and that in order to continue his work he needs the vote of every Venezuelan.
 
The outspoken leader’s campaign material now includes a “Message of love for the people of my Venezuela,” in which Chavez says, “Out of love you chose me to be President.  I have governed these years out of love.  There is much to do, I need more time.”  He ends the message with, “I need your vote, your vote for love.”

Speaking on Venezuelan radio, Archbishop Luckert said, “I don’t want to doubt the good will of the President, but he has deceived us in the past…sometimes he says one thing and then 15 days later says something else.  I hope this is a true conversion and that he understands that by sowing hatred he will only reap storms.”

“It’s never too late to love or to be converted,” the archbishop said, adding that if, after eight years of speaking the language of violence and division, “he has realized that we can only build Venezuela upon love and solidarity and not on hatred and violence,” then “he should be congratulated.”

“What he has sown during these years has been aggression and hatred between Venezuelans,” Archbishop Luckert said.  “He is President of all Venezuelans and he cannot discriminate against anybody, because he should be the leader of all, and it seems he is only the leader of those who are with him,” he added.

Consequently the archbishop said Chavez must perform concrete works to confirm his message of love, such as holding talks with former Venezuelan oil workers who were fired for protesting against the government.  “Conversion is not only about words, it’s about actions,” the archbishop declared.

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