Venezuela: bishops bash Bolivarian Catholics
Speaking to the Caracas-based Union Radio, Archbishop Roberto Luckert Leon of Coro, vice president of the Venezuelan bishops' conference, charged that the newly established Reform Catholic Venezuelan Church is a ploy by the government of President Hugo Chávez to divide the Catholic Church, and warned that liturgies celebrated by the new church had no religious validity. He said the new church's bishops "are going to dress like priests and carry out baptisms and confirmations, all paid for by the government which has tried to finish off the Catholic Church but failed."
The church was founded by a group that includes several Venezuelan Catholic priests and members of the Anglican and Lutheran churches from Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, Canada and other countries. In a statement announcing the church's founding, the group said that they would emphasize "social responsibility" and have a "strong Bolivarian spirit which recognises that Jesus Christ, as a man of history, is present in this revolution."
Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas said the reformist church "can't be considered a church...since these priests who have participated in the creation of this new association certainly are schismatic and, as such, are excommunicated." (Total Catholic, July 1)