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VENEZUELA
Chávez, church square off
2/18/2002
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In a diplomatic event on Jan. 24, President Hugo Chávez called the Catholic Church a "tumor" affecting his Bolivarian revolution and said he considered it a political enemy. The comment was a response to a speech by Bishop André Dupuy, the papal nuncio, in which he expressed concern over what he called Chávez’s radical policies.

In a statement issued Jan. 28, the Venezuelan Conference of Bishops said, "The recent acts, judgments and denigrating comments by the president and some members of the government are completely inadmissible." The bishops announced that they would boycott a meeting with Chávez scheduled for the next day.

On various occasions, Catholic Church leaders have sharply criticized Chávez’s authoritarian governing style. The president has responded on his weekly radio program with attacks and threats against the church, the opposition press, the business sector, unions and political parties that he has called "counter-revolutionary" (LP, Jan. 28, 2002).

 


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