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Editorial: Hugo Chavez Found His Way Home: May He Rest in Peace; May the False Ideology He Championed Die with Him

By Deacon Keith Fournier
March 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

What intervened to effect such a change in Hugo Chavez? One word - and a big one - the disease the whole world fears, cancer. It's devastating and painful effects in Hugo Chavez led him to see with clarity the deeper mystery of life. His final response shows all those - with the eyes to see - the mystery of human suffering and the meaning of mercy.

CARACAS, Venezuela (Catholic Online) - Back in 2008 the now deceased president for life of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, insulted Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, the archbishop of Caracas, in a public diatribe. He was well known for them. He called this holy man of the Lord and His Catholic Church a "troglodyte" for trying to "scare people about communism."

In fact, the dictator who ruled the people of that beautiful nation with an iron hand was ever ready with a mouth full of insults against the Catholic Church into which he had been baptized. He went further. He demanded that the Cardinal be removed from office by the Pope.

Later that same year he railed against the Pope claiming he was "no ambassador of Jesus on earth, because the true Jesus is in the people and in those of us who fight for justice and the liberation of the meek." Make no mistake; the man was in the grips of the counterfeit ideology which he championed. 

Coming to the defense of the Cardinal back in 2008 was Bishop Jesús González de Zárate Salas of Caracas.

Fast forward to March 6, 2013. The Catholic News Agency, one of the most accurate Catholic News sources in the world, reported that Hugo Chavez died 'in the bosom of the Church'. The report claimed that "a source in Venezuela has revealed to CNA that President Hugo Chavez died "in bosom of the Church" and received spiritual direction and the sacraments in his last days.

In announcing Chavez's death to the nation on March 5, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said the Venezuelan leader died "clinging to Christ." The source in Venezuela told CNA that during the last weeks of his life, Chavez requested spiritual direction and asked to receive the sacraments."

According to CNA, the same Bishop who defended the Cardinal in 2010, Bishop Jesús González de Zárate Salas of Caracas, the secretary general of the Bishops' Conference of Venezuela, has now called for national unity. He proclaimed the Gospel on local television by using this existential moment, the death of the President, to proclaim the heart of the Christian message.

He told a local television reporter, "At this time let us all put forth our best sentiments. Death is not the end of our life. Death only opens the way to a life of complete happiness, at the side of God our Father." The Bishops comment is certainly worthy of his name, Jesús, and instructive for all of us.

During the late President's struggle with cancer in April of 2012, he went home to Barinas, where he had been raised in the Church, to attend Holy Week services. He sought prayers for his healing and requested that he be remembered at Holy Mass. He sought help for his suffering in the Sacrament of Anointing of the sick, from none other than Cardinal Urosa .

Another highly credible news source, the National Catholic Register (the good NCR) confirmed these reports that the former President of Venezuela died in a state of grace: "At 4:15pm on Tuesday, March 5, the death of Chavez was confirmed.A source from the Catholic Church in Venezuela told the Register on the condition of anonymity that Chavez died as "a practicing Catholic, assisted by the sacraments, which he constantly requested in the last period."

What intervened to effect such a change in Hugo Chavez? One word - and a big one - the disease the whole world fears, cancer. It's devastating and painful effects in Hugo Chavez led him to see with clarity the deeper mystery of life. His final response shows all those - with the eyes to see - the mystery of human suffering and the meaning of mercy.

The Catholic Church which welcomed Hugo Chavez home to her Sacraments is the same Church which plunged him into those waters of Baptism all those years ago. We who bear the name Catholic are privileged to belong to that same Church. We should respond with her mind and her heart to the news of the return of one of our members.

St. Jose Maria Escriva wrote of what called 'the Christian Revolution in these words: "The great Christian revolution has been to convert pain into fruitful suffering and to turn a bad thing into something good. We have deprived the devil of this weapon; and with it we conquer eternity." (St. Jose Maria Escriva, The Furrow #887)

All of us can draw comfort from the report that the man who once appeared so full of himself, was filled with grace, divine life, during those final days on earth.

We have published several pieces on the horrid legacy of Hugo Chavez and the regime which he ruled. However, we welcome this news of his final reconciliation and the promise of hope which it holds out to the whole world. No-one is beyond redemption. The Mercy of God is offered to all. For this, we should all rejoice.

As a Deacon of the Church I have had the privilege of being by the side of many who, in those final hours of life, have found the passageway to Life eternal. They have been the most moving experiences of my ministry and, as I have aged, have provided me with the great treasury of hope into which I reach as I offer the Good News, the Gospel, to men and women in an age which has lost its way. We ask our readers to pray for the people of Venezuela. May the legacy which leaves a lasting mark on that beautiful nation be the final one left by a son of Venezuela named Hugo Chavez.   

However, we also ask our readers to pray for an end to the ideology which not only deceived Hugo Chavez until his final days - but continues to imprison so many in our day and age. Hugo Chavez found his way home. May he rest in Peace; May the False Ideology He Championed Die with Him.

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