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Venezuelan Catholics face backlash for opposing government

Violence during protests in Venezuela. Credit: Diariocritico de Venezuela via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Caracas, Venezuela, Feb 23, 2017 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After speaking against alleged government misconduct, human rights abuses and delay of free elections, Catholic churches and clergy around Venezuela are facing a wave of protests from pro-government supporters.

A string of incidents began on the morning of Jan. 29, as supporters of the current government interrupted a Mass at San Pedro Claver Church in a poor neighborhood of Caracas, Reuters reported.

The crowd of around 20 people hurled insults at the clergy, calling them “Satan in a cassock!” and “Fascist!” The protesters also used the chant “Chavez lives!” – in honor of late president and former leader of the ruling Socialist party, Hugo Chavez.

After the death of the socialist leader from cancer in 2013 and his succession by current Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, the country has faced both increases in violence and a number of social and political challenges, including the delay of the country’s regional elections.

The bishops’ strong stance against the current Venezuelan government – and other opinions echoed by priests around the country– has prompted backlash not only in the capital of Caracas, but in around the country. The cathedral of Caracas was hit with rocks, and protestors went to the home of the Archbishop Antonio Lopez of Barquisimeto after he said in a speech that socialism has brought “misery” to the country.

The same day as the protests in the Caracas parish of San Pedro Claver, police interrupted Mass in the city of Maracaibo. In the last week of January, gun-toting robbers attacked, threatened monks and stole from a Trappist monastery in the state of Merida.

Read more at Catholic News Agency.

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