Wearing Religious Symbols
Venezuelan cardinal rebuffs attempts to silence legitimate criticism

.- The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, said this week that as a Venezuelan, he has the right to state his opinions about the country and that therefore he has no intention of taking off his religious symbols.  His comments came in response to the Minister of Communication and Culture, William Lara, who said the cardinal should take off his cross and priestly garb before stating an opinion about the constitutional reform.

“In order to continue acting as the spokesman for the opposition, Jorge Urosa should abstain from using Christ, the cross and priestly garb during his propagandistic statements against constitutional reform. Otherwise he will continue being disrespectful to our Catholic Church which belongs to all, whether nor not we are bishops,” Lara said.

In response, Cardinal Urosa told reporters he had no intention of “taking off any of my religious symbols. I think I am a Venezuelan with full rights, but in addition I am a bishop with full rights and at the same time with duties that I must fulfill.”  “We priests and bishops should be impartial in political matters but we cannot be indifferent in the face of people’s problems,” he added.

The cardinal stressed that the bishops, as pastors of the Church, are not part of any political opposition.  He said he was pleased that Lara considers himself a Catholic, and that the bishops “speak to all Catholics, regardless of their ideology, social position, political militancy, because we have the duty to point out dangers, difficulties and to lead the way.”

He wondered why the negative response to his comments when the government has invited debate about the proposed constitutional reforms.  “This is not logical,” he said. “Debate means there are varying opinions and that from the interacting and confrontation of these opinions concrete decision for the good of the country should come,” he said.

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