Cardinal says Venezuelan President 'needs exorcism'

Venezuela's Cardinal Rosalio Castillo, a vocal critic of the country's President Hugo Chavez, called the leader a "paranoid dictator", suggesting that there is "no democracy in Venezuela".

Catholic News Agency reports that in an interview on Sunday, the Cardinal told the colombian newspaper El Tiempo, that Chavez's government is "despotic", accusing the president of rounding up some 100 political prisoners and torturing some.

Last month, Cardinal Castillo said that Chavez was gaining too much power and becoming a dictator. In turn, Chavez blasted the Cardinal calling him a "bandit" who has "the devil in him."

Chavez insists he is a democratic leader and is widely favored for re-election next year.

The 82-year old Cardinal said that his statements were not personal but reflected the position of church leaders across Venezuela. "The difference is in the way it's said," he pointed out. "There are those who speak diplomatically, and others like me who speak clearly so that everyone understands."

The Church has continually been the strongest critic of Chavez, who calls himself a self-styled "revolutionary."

When asked by El Tiempo whether he would send a blessing to the president, Cardinal Castillo said, "more than a blessing, I'd give him an exorcism."

Cardinal says Venezuelan President 'needs exorcism' (Catholic News Agency 1/8/05)

Cardinal: Chavez needs 'exorcism' (Associated Press/CNN 31/7/05)
Chavez "is not Catholic," says Venezuelan cardinal (Catholic News Agency 28/7/05)
Chávez and cardinal trade insults (The Tablet 23/7/05)
Cardinal Sees an Attempt to "Cubanize" Venezuela (Zenit 20/7/05)
Venezuelan bishops' statement leads to war of words with president (Catholic News Service 19/7/05)
Cardinal confronts Venezuelan president over democracy in the country (Catholic News Agency 19/7/05)
Venezuelan Cardinal Criticizes Chavez (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 18/7/05)
Venezuela's Chavez hits back at Catholic critics (Reuters 13/7/05)
Facing Into Venezuela's Ongoing Crisis (Zenit 6/7/05)

2 Aug 2005