Monsignor Porras links Chavez Frias to expanding Brazilian religious sect

Spanish La Razon newspaper says Venezuelan Episcopal Conference (CEV) president, Monsignor Baltazar Porras has accused President Hugo Chavez Frias of supporting Brazilian religious sects and of attempting to muzzle the Catholic Church in Venezuela.

The reference linking President Chavez Frias to non-Catholic religious groups comes in the wake of rumors that President Chavez Frias is fast becoming a Pentecostal and that he holds prayers sessions with US-based (and not Brazilian) evangelical groups.

Porras singles out the Brazilian Prayer to the Holy Spirit group that has mushroomed in numbers and economically in Venezuela taking over disused cinema and concert halls. The sect, the prelate claims, have been granted unfair advantages under the administration, especially in obtaining credits and facilities to expand.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, has been hit hard by government subsidy cuts ... "from the beginning the administration has attempted to silence and domesticate the Catholic Church ... it has attempted to start up several social programs, the last being Mission Cristo, to eliminate poverty and it uses religious symbols for revolutionary purposes, claiming that if Jesus Christ came to earth today, he would be Bolivarian."

As for the Chavez Frias administration, Porras contends that it has a legal veneer but is false ... " in Venezuelan society there is a process of exclusion that has brought more impoverishment and a deterioration of public services."