Rosalio José Cardinal Castillo Lara, S.D.B. † Rosalio José Cardinal Castillo Lara, S.D.B. †
President Emeritus of Vatican City State, Roman Curia
Cardinal Priest of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in S. Giovanni di Dio
Sept 04, 1922
May 25, 1985
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English Chavez needs 'exorcism'
Aug 16, 2005
An outspoken Catholic cardinal took his war of words with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to a new level in an interview published Sunday, calling him "a paranoid dictator" who needs "an exorcism."

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP, August 1, 2005) -- Rosalio Castillo, Venezuela's only cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, also accused Chavez of rounding up more than 100 political prisoners and torturing some captives.

"There is no democracy here [in Venezuela]," Castillo told Colombia's main newspaper, El Tiempo. "This is a despotic government."

Chavez, who insists he supports democracy, is up for re-election next year, and recent polls suggest he is strongly favored to win.

Earlier this month, Castillo warned that Chavez was gaining too much power and becoming a dictator. Chavez, in turn, called Castillo "a bandit" who "has the devil inside him."

In Sunday's interview, Castillo said his comments on Chavez are not personal, and said they fall in line with the opinions of other Church leaders in Venezuela.

"The difference is in the way it's said. There are those who speak diplomatically, and others like me who speak clearly so that everyone understands," the 82-year-old cardinal said.

The Roman Catholic Church has been one of the most critical voices of Chavez, a former paratroop commander and self-styled "revolutionary."

The Church is also one of the most trusted institutions in the poverty-stricken South American nation. More than 90 percent of Venezuela's population is Roman Catholic, and Church leaders and local priests wield tremendous influence over many of its citizens.

Asked whether he would send a blessing to Chavez, Castillo said: "More than a blessing, I'd give him an exorcism."
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