Wednesday, July 02, 2008


A reformist church which has adopted many Roman Catholic symbols and rituals while departing from several traditional church teachings has come under fire from Venezuelan Catholic leaders.

Archbishop Roberto Luckert Leon of Coro, vice president of the Venezuelan bishops' conference, told the Caracas-based Union Radio that the Reform Catholic Venezuelan Church was attempting to show that the Catholic Church is divided.

He accused the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of funding the new church in an attempt to divide the Catholic Church and warned that liturgies celebrated by the church had no religious validity.

The new church's bishops "are going to dress like priests and carry out baptisms and confirmations, all paid for by the government which has tried to finish off the Catholic Church but failed," Archbishop Luckert said.

The church was founded by a group that includes several Venezuelan Catholic priests and members of the Anglican and Lutheran churches from several nations, Peru, Mexico and Canada among them. The reformist church echoes phrases commonly used by Chavez, who says his government is a "revolution for the poor."

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