Archbishop denounces attempts to implicate Church in 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela


Speaking on Union Radio, the president of the Committee on Culture and the Media of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Baltazar Porras, lamented the insistence of President Hugo Chavez in linking the Church to the coup attempt of April 2002.

The archbishop recalled that at that time, Chavez himself thanked the bishops in private for having protected him, but in public he has repeated the “cliché” that is part of his manipulation to “beat up on and slander such an institution as the Church.”

“We’re facing a new attack that is intended to deny the Church’s participation at that time, which was very clear and transparent,” Archbishop Porras said, pointing out that Chavez is trying to make the Church appear divided and that one group is with the people and one group is with the rotten leaders of the country.”

The archbishop noted that the same thing was said in the days after the events of April 11, 2002.  “This contradicts what the president himself said on April 24 in a meeting with the bishops for several hours.  It’s interesting that the first words he said were of gratitude to Cardinal Velasco and secondly to me for our role in the events of those days and for protecting him.”

Archbishop Porras also recalled that at that time, Chavez said it would be good to express his sentiments “in public and before the media, and that never happened.  Since then he has always tried to implicate the Church in those events” of April 2002.

The facts
In April of 2002, “the only thing we did was respond to a call by the president himself in order to carry out a priestly and humanitarian duty to protect his life and the lives of those who were with him, and now he wants to make it look like the Church was part of the plot against him,” the archbishop said.

He recalled how President Chavez asked the Church for help on that occasion. “At midnight between April 11 and 12, Rodriguez Chacin, then interior minister, told me the president wanted to speak with me.  He handed me the phone and the president said, ‘Forgive me for all of the terrible things I have said about you. I am calling to ask if you would be willing to protect my life and the lives of the people with me.”

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