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Venezuelan priest uses Instagram fame to engage his people

FATHER LUIS ANTONIO SALAZAR
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Father Luis Antonio Salazar stands with his congregation in the streets during times of political uncertainty.

Over the course of the last two years Father Luis Antonio Salazar, a Venezuelan native who once competed as a male beauty pageant contestant, has turned his Instagram channel into an active ministry with over 30,000 followers. His posts, mostly short videos, are miniature sermons or reflections on a given Sunday’s Gospel, but he puts them into the common pop-culture vernacular, comparing them in terms of popular movies like Kung Fu Panda or Miss Congeniality.

In his parish, Father Luis celebrates his Masses with the same enthusiasm he has on his Instagram channel, while combining his youthful exuberance with the ancient and holy Rites of the Catholic faith. His Masses have become vastly popular, with packed houses and lines of faithful forming to take selfies with the man who has been dubbed the “rock-star priest.”

His homilies usually elaborate on his short Instagram posts. This splendid idea gives his congregants a preview of the Mass, so that the faithful are already in a reflective mindset as they enter the pews. Of his homilies, Father Salazar told Reuters:

“I explain quickly and (explain) how people can use it in their lives,” he said. “People tell me ‘if someone can explain it to me, I’ll understand it and use it in my life.'”

Now, Father Salazar is taking his ministry beyond the social media platform, as he ventures to the streets to stand with his congregation in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaido. There in his cassock, he has joined the massive anti-government protests, as Reuters describes, offering blessings one moment and running from tear gas the next.

“If the people are on the street, you have to be with the people,” he told Reuters.

He went on to explain that he felt called to take part in the protests because it is in the nature of the Venezuelan people to stand up for their political beliefs. He said:

“From the peasant who harvests potatoes to Juan Guaido, the president in charge … we all talk about politics. I cannot exempt myself.”

Venezuela’s Episcopal Conference and the Archdiocese of Caracas has not commented on Father Salazar’s activism, nor have they ordered him to stop his efforts. To see Father Salazar’s Instagram channel, click here.

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