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Cablegate: Engaging Catholic Church in Venezuela

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 001975

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE (MENNUTI)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/22/2012
TAGS: PREL PGOV VE VT
SUBJECT: ENGAGING CATHOLIC CHURCH IN VENEZUELA

REF: STATE: 73097

CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR JIM NICHOLSON, REASON E.O. 12958 1.5 (B,D)

1. (C) PER REFTEL, AMBASSADOR MET WITH VATICAN FM EQUIVALENT
ARCHBISHOP JEAN LOUIS TAURAN EVENING OF APRIL 19 TO URGE THE
HOLY SEE TO TAKE AN ACTIVE AND APPROPRIATE ROLE IN SUPPORT OF
VENEZUELAN DEMOCRACY. TAURAN WAS WELL BRIEFED ON THE
SITUATION IN VENEZUELA. AS USUAL, HE REFERRED TO THE POPE'S
STATEMENT ON THE SITUATION (PROMOTING RECONCILIATION AND
PEACE), GIVEN AT THE WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17 GENERAL AUDIENCE.
HE WAS GUARDEDLY POSITIVE ON THE CHURCH TALKING A PLACE IN
PRESIDENT CHAVEZ' "NATIONAL DIALOGUE," BUT SAID THAT THE
POSITION OF THE CHURCH VIS A VIS CHAVEZ WAS UNCERTAIN, GIVEN
THE LATTER'S HISTORICAL HOSTILITY TO THE CHURCH. AMBASSADOR
AGREED, RECALLING THAT CHAVEZ HAD CALLED THE CHURCH "A
CANCER" ON THE VENEZUELAN BODY POLITIC JUST A COUPLE OF
MONTHS AGO.

2. (C) TAURAN SAID THE CHURCH HAD TO BE CAREFUL, THAT EVEN
THOUGH TIME WAS SHORT, THEY WOULD TAKE A LOW PROFILE UNTIL
THE EARLY POST-COUP PERIOD PLAYS OUT. HE SAID CHAVEZ IS
TALKING RECONCILIATION NOW BUT, TAURAN AVERRED, CHAVEZ WAS
NOT AT ALL TRUSTWORTHY. THE HOLY SEE FEARS A NEGATIVE
REACTION TO THE FACT THAT THE CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF CARACAS,
VELASCO GARCIA, HAD SIGNED A DOCUMENT AT THE SATURDAY
INAUGURATION OF PRESIDENTIAL USURPER CARMONA.

3. (C) TAURAN COUNSELED THE USG TO "PRESSURE" THE MILITARY
AND BUSINESS CLASSES IN VENEZUELA TO SUPPORT THE NATIONAL
RECONCILIATION NOW THAT CHAVEZ WAS BACK IN POWER. HE
SPECULATED THAT SOME GENERALS WHO HAD SUPPORTED THE COUP,
HAVING SEEN THAT A CARMONA PRESIDENCY LOOKED LIKE IT WOULD
INVESTIGATE CORRUPTION SCANDALS IN VENEZUELA, DECIDED THAT
PERHAPS CHAVEZ WAS THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS. TAURAN DECRIED
THE CONTINUING PRESENCE OF "THOSE 15 CUBAN ADVISORS" AND
RECALLED THAT WHEN THE POPE MET FIDEL CASTRO IN 1998, FIDEL
HAD SAID THERE WAS A YOUNG NEW LEADER ON THE SCENE, CALLING
CHAVEZ "SPLENDID." TAURAN CLOSED BY ASSURING US THAT HE
WOULD SPEAK TO HIS NUNCIO OVER THE WEEKEND, AND WOULD STAY IN
CLOSE TOUCH AS WE GO FORWARD.
NICHOLSON

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