Violence continues in troubled country
CARACAS (AGENZIA FIDES) – The latest tragedy to befall Venezuela is the apparently violent death of a Catholic priest.
According to Diario La Verdad, a newspaper based in Maracaibo, the nation’s second-largest city, Father Reinaldo Alfonso Herrera Lures was kidnapped on September 25 and found dead two days later. He had served as a military chaplain at the Navy Infantry of the Bolivarian Armed Forces.
"On the evening of Thursday, September 25, Father Reinaldo passed away while he was reaching his car to go home, and we had no news of him until the evening of Saturday, September 27, when his lifeless body was found, which was taken to the morgue in Los Teques," Bishop Raúl Biord Castillo of La Guaira said in a statement sent to Fides Agency. "We are waiting for investigations by state agencies that may clarify the reason and the circumstances of his death."
Father Herrera served in various parishes of the Diocese of La Guaira, and is remembered primarily for his work in the Parish of the Holy Spirit of Los Corales. For several years he served as a military chaplain. He was also chancellor of the diocese and chaplain of Colegio Champagnat in Caracas.
"As Christians, we deplore this death that is added to many other deaths due to the violence and insecurity that we live in the country", said Bishop Biord.
Violence continues to plague the country which is suffering from a deep economic crisis that has led to widespread shortages and galloping, 60 percent inflation. A wave of anti-government protests earlier this year left 43 people dead.
At the United Nations last week President Barack Obama demanded the release of prominent Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been jailed on charges of inciting violence in demonstrations that wracked the country earlier this year.
Earlier this month a rewriting of the Christian Lord’s Prayer to commemorate the late Hugo Chavez caused controversy in the country. Venezuela’s Roman Catholic Church denounced the used of the socialist leader’s name in an "untouchable" prayer. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro defends it, and calls critics "new inquisitors." The back and forth started when socialist party delegate Maria Estrella Uribe read the prayer at a party convention.
"Our Chavez who art in heaven," she began, continuing, "lead us not into the temptation of capitalism."
Chavez’s legacy has taken on a religious glow in Venezuela since the leader’s death last year. Rosaries adorned with Chavez’s face, shrines and images depicting him with a Christian cross have become commonplace. Followers often say they believe Chavez was on a divine mission.
During his presidency, Chavez frequently crossed paths with Venezuela’s church, which sometimes accused the socialist leader of becoming increasingly authoritarian. Chavez described Christ as a socialist and said local church authorities were misleading the Vatican with warnings that Venezuela was drifting toward dictatorship.
Venezuela is 90 percent Catholic, though many marry their Christianity with Santeria and other syncretic belief systems.