Monday, May 21, 2007


Last week we reported on the outrageous comments made by the Pope about Indians while he was visiting Brazil. Now Catholic World News reports that Hugo Chavez has spoken out on the issue.

Chavez said he paid close attention to everything the Pope said in Brazil, and that after hearing him say that the Gospel was not imposed upon the natives, he called Venezuela’s minister for the indigenous peoples, Nizia Maldonado, who said she did not share the Pope’s opinion and that it was "difficult to support, for God’s sake!"

"Is that why the Catholic Church is losing more believers every day?" Chavez said. "I think it’s because of this."

Chavez said that the Pope’s comments that the evangelization of Latin America was not the imposition of a foreign culture, seemed to be intended to strengthen the Catholic Church, but"“these statements only weaken the Catholic Church more."

"How can the Pope say here, in this land-- where the bones of the native martyrs who were massacred by the rule of the European empires are still warm-- how can he say, because that’s practically what he said, that there was no imposition," Chavez said.

But before you start reading the article below about the Papal brouhaha, I wanted to let you in on this other bit of interesting news. It seems that Venezuela is to give the American actor Danny Glover almost $18m to make a film about a slave uprising in Haiti, actually a biography of Toussaint Louverture, an iconic figure in the Caribbean who led the 18th-century revolt in Haiti. Glover said he wanted to educate the US about the story. "It's been essentially wiped out of our historic memory, it's been wiped clean."

The Venezuelan congress said it would use the proceeds from a recent bond sale with Argentina to finance the film.

It will also give seed money for a film version of The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel García Márquez's novel about the last days of Simón Bolívar, who liberated much of South America from Spanish colonialism.

The following is from Caribbean Net News.

Chavez demands Pope apologise for Indian comments

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez demanded Pope Benedict apologize to Indians in Latin America for saying this month in Brazil that the Roman Catholic Church purified them.

Chavez, who regularly clashes with the Catholic Church in Venezuela but had not directly criticised the Pope before, accused the Pontiff of ignoring the "holocaust" that followed Christopher Columbus's 1492 landing in the Americas.

"With all due respect your Holiness, apologize because there was a real genocide here and, if we were to deny it, we would be denying our very selves," Chavez said at an event on freedom of expression.

In a speech to Latin American and Caribbean bishops at the end of a visit to Venezuela's neighbor Brazil, the Pope said the Church had not imposed itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Indian leaders in the region were outraged by the comments.

Millions of tribal Indians are believed to have died as a result of European colonization backed by the Church, through slaughter, disease or enslavement.

Chavez, who has expanded the rights of indigenous peoples from the Amazon rainforest to the Caribbean, said he felt he was Indian because Venezuelans are a mix of the European race and indigenous peoples.

Chavez spoke only days after Venezuelan media interpreted other comments from the Pope as singling out Chavez as a danger to Latin America when he warned of autocrats in the region.

Chavez, who regularly criticizes world figures such as US President George W. Bush, describes himself as Christian, grew up expecting to become a priest and says his socialist policies have roots in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

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