ZE10070707 - 2010-07-07
Venezuelan President Asks Pope for Replacement
CARACAS, Venezuela, JULY 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is playing with fire, says the semi-official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
The newspaper reported this in reference to the insults the Venezuelan president leveled Monday against Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, the archbishop of Caracas, calling him a "troglodyte" for trying to "scare people about communism."
“We don’t deserve a cardinal like [Urosa],” Chávez said during a national assembly on the day his nation celebrates its independence. “This gentleman is unworthy of calling himself cardinal.”
He asked the papal nuncio to Argentina, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, to tell Benedict XVI to replace the current cardinal with Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta of San Cristobal.
L'Osservatore Romano says the president took "advantage of the celebrations of the bicentenary of national independence," to pour "gasoline on the fire of Church-state relations."
"Addressing the National Assembly in a solemn commemorative session, Chávez directed very harsh insults to the cardinal, who recently criticized the closing of many of the opposition media and invited the government to respect the democratic rights recognized by the Constitution, insults also repeated in a television broadcast," reports the Vatican newspaper.
"The Catholic Church in Venezuela firmly rejects the indescribable verbal aggression of which the cardinal archbishop of Caracas has been the object," states the article, which will appear Thursday in the Italian edition.
In an interview with Globovision network, the secretary-general of the Venezuelan episcopal conference, Auxiliary Bishop Jesús González de Zárate Salas of Caracas, rejected the accusations. He has become the spokesman of the manifestations of solidarity that the cardinal has received from the whole country.
Right and duty
In the same line, the council of priests of the archdiocese of Caracas issued a communiqué, in which it states that, "as a Venezuelan citizen, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino has the full right and duty to opine and contribute to the common good, in keeping with his ample cultural preparation and his personal convictions."
The note continued: "As archbishop of Caracas he has the full right, more than that, he has the sacred duty to guide Catholics on religious and moral principles and values that are at stake in the present social and political situation of our country. This is a part of his office that he cannot give up as principal pastor of our Caracas Church and eminent member of the Venezuelan episcopate.
"In this connection it should be pointed out that all the public statements on topics that affect the collectivity and, hence, the common good, have been very pointed and specific and have been made from the plane of the great principles of the Gospel, and from the systematic application of the latter in the field of social topics, that is, from the Social Doctrine of the Church."
The council also stated that it rejected Chavez's attempt to interfer with the internal decision s of the Church by telling the Pope who he should name as archbishop of Venezuela. "The Holy Father, as Universal Pastor of the Catholic Church, enjoys total autonomy and liberty to appoint the bishops for the different diocesan sees in the whole world and to institute the members of the College of Cardinals.
"The clergy of the archdiocese, together with their faithful, reiterate their unbreakable communion with the archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, our legitimate pastor."