Chavez: Venezuela rethinking relations with Vatican

July 15, 2010 11:42

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez announced Wednesday that Venezuela would rethink its relations with the Vatican as tensions rise between his government and Catholic Church representatives who accuse the socialist leader of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

During a televised speech, Chavez instructed his foreign minister to "examine" relations with the Vatican. Without elaborating, he questioned the validity of an agreement giving the Catholic Church privileges that are not extended to other religious organizations in Venezuela.

Chavez also challenged the authority of Pope Benedict XVI, saying the pope "isn't God's emissary on Earth."

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