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Venezuela bishops ignored JP2 on Chavez

Pope John Paul II ordered Venezuelan bishops to stay out of efforts to topple President Hugo Chávez nearly 10 years ago, but the bishops defied him with encouragement from the Bush administration.

  • Venezuela
  • June 23, 2011
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Pope John Paul II ordered Venezuelan bishops to stay out of efforts to topple President Hugo Chávez nearly 10 years ago, but the bishops defied him with encouragement from the Bush administration.

State Department cables that WikiLeaks obtained and shared with McClatchy Newspapers and other news organizations indicate that church officials at the Vatican briefed U.S. diplomats on the pope's concerns but acknowledged that the country's Catholic bishops were likely to ignore the orders, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Nearly a decade later, relations between Chávez and the church remain chilly, and the cables provide insight into how the antipathy became so deep: Catholic prelates not only were trying to unseat Chávez, but also were willing to defy directions from the pope to do so.

"The Holy See is concerned about the prospect of civil violence in Venezuela in the coming months, and the pope himself has urged the Venezuelan bishops to 'cool it' on political activism and instead to encourage dialogue," said a confidential cable that Jim Nicholson, who was then the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, sent on Nov. 19, 2002, to the State Department.

The cable came months after a failed April 11 coup.

SOURCE

Bishops defied pope in 2002 on toppling Chávez (Sacramento Bee)

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Al Jazeera
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