The Venezuelan government is increasingly interfering with Catholic education, leading to divisions across the country and possibly paving the road for a civil war.
A Catholic priest and headmaster of a Catholic school in Venezuela has expressed his fear that the government will confiscate Church schools and health facilities as part of its nationalization program of the education and health systems.
He also cited that his activity in the school is increasingly threatened. The state has increasingly been exerting influence on the subject matter of the teaching, he alleged, adding that the schools were now compelled to use state-approved teaching materials and indoctrination was constantly on the increase.
Just as prolific, are deliberate campaigns to denigrate the Catholic Church in the public mind. The government has continued to vilify and attack the Church in the person of her representatives, the bishops and priests, the priest told the international Catholic pastoral charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The state was adopting an “increasingly aggressive tone,” he said, and there was a “dramatically deepening gulf between the Church and the government.”
According to him, the divisions in Venezuelan society between opponents and supporters of the policies of President Hugo Chavez have never been as profound as they are today. A division in society is never good, he said, but if such a situation were to grow worse, and people were to become too impatient, it could even degenerate into a civil war, he explained. But even without such an extreme outcome, he still believes that difficult times are coming to Venezuela and to the Catholic Church in this country.
Javier Legorreta, one of ACN’s Latin America specialists, also sees a growing threat to the Church in Venezuela. “We are following the situation there very closely, and we are deeply concerned,” he emphasised. “Apart from financial help, the Church in Venezuela above all needs our solidarity and prayers and our moral support for greater social justice,” he said.