January 15, 2010
By Martin Barillas
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela asked the newly installed Vatican diplomatic representative to undertake an "exorcism" of the nunciature, the office occupied by a predecessor who the Venezuelan described as a "sadist and rapist." Even so, Chavez welcomed papal nuncio Pietro Parolin during an official meeting with political leaders and diplomats on January 15 . Describing himself as a "Catholic", Chavez said it was "very lamentable" that the Vatican embassy had sheltered Nixon Moreno – a 34-year-old political opponent who was given political asylum there from March 2007 until March 2009. Moreno is charged with homicide and sexual assault in Venezuela and is currently taking refuge in Peru. Moreno has denied the charged and has said that he is the victim of political persecution. Chavez said that his "'revolution' is profoundly Christian," and that is "Bolivarian revolution" is ready for "good relations" with the Catholic Church even while it will not stand pat in the face of criticism on the part of local church hierarchs. "Believe me, we are hoping to have good relations with the Vatican," averred Chavez, "but we are not prepared to be quiet in the face of the intromission on the part of a group of bishops which has submitted to Venezuela bourgeois bastards." Chavez made these remarks in reference to the Catholic Church and the Vatican's ambassador during a formal meeting with Venezuela's political leaders and foreign ambassadors wherein he he gave an accounting of his government's activities in 2009. Among the other recent acts by Chavez was to devalue Venezuela's currency and send soldiers to seize businesses engaged in price gouging.