When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez met with the Pope earlier this week, he assured Benedict XVI that he is a Christian. And he told the press that has a special friend who is one too. Sort of.
"Our Bolivarian revolution is very Christian and I have a friend who isn't Christian, but lately has said he is a Christian in the social aspect: his name is Fidel Castro," Chávez announced. "I talk to [Castro] a lot about Christ each time we see each other, and he told me recently, 'Chávez, I'm Christian in the social sense.'"
Chávez calls Jesus Christ a socialist and a revolutionary. And that's the kind of Christ he wants to follow. It is not clear how much the Pope was persuaded. The Vatican has criticized efforts by Chávez's revolutionary government to curtail the influence of the Catholic Church in Venezuela. Chávez has called the Catholic Church's hierarchy a "tumor," while Venezuelan Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara has accused Chávez of aspiring towards a dictatorship.
It will be no surprise if we soon see left-wing American clerics investing Chávez with a mystical reverence previously reserved for the likes of Fidel Castro and, during the 1980s, Sandinista honcho Daniel Ortega. Indeed, the canonization of Chávez in some quarters has already begun.
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