Venezuela denies Pope slammed Chavez's 'Marxism'

Venezuela's top government spokesman insisted on Monday that the pope's condemnation of Marxism was not directed at President Hugo Chavez, who says he is steering Venezuela toward "21st century socialism." "We all know that the current pope is characterized as a conservative man, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we must automatically think that any word he utters ... is against Venezuela," Information Minister Willian Lara told state television.