Friday, December 14, 2007

Pope Backs Attacked Venezuelan Cardinal: Government Sympathizers Hit and Kicked Car

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 13, 2007 ( Benedict XVI sent a message to Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, after the Caracas archbishop was attacked by a group of Hugo Chávez supporters called "The Hot Corner."

The cardinal was attacked verbally and physically Friday by the Venezuelan president's supporters in the capital's central Bolivar Plaza, as local police stood by.

The Pope said in a note sent Sunday: "Having known with concern the news of the attack suffered by Your Eminence by a violent group on the 7th, I hasten to show you my sincere closeness and solidarity in this unfortunate circumstance, and at the same time to assure you of a special remembrance in prayer, that you may be sustained and encouraged in the faithful fulfillment of your pastoral mission.

"As a sign of consolation and esteem, I cordially send you my apostolic blessing, which extends to all the pastors and faithful of that beloved nation."

Cardinal Urosa released a statement Saturday that said at 3:20 on Friday, when he left his residence in car with his driver, "I was violently attacked verbally and physically; even though I wasn't personally hit, they hit and kicked my car."

"There were 15 people, from the violent group 'The Hot Corner,'" he said, referring to a group of mostly unemployed individuals that congregate in the Bolivar Plaza.

"There was no protection by the Caracas police," lamented the cardinal.

"I have sent two messages about this issue to [Interior] Minister Pedro Carreño, who did not return my calls," added Cardinal Urosa. "Thanks be to God that this time I left unhurt."

Cardinal Urosa received several verbal attacks from Chávez during the campaign for the referendum on the socialist constitutional reform, which was defeated in the ballot boxes Dec. 2.


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