Catholic Church in Venezuela

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The Catholic Church in Venezuela is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope, the Curia in Rome and the Venezuelan Bishops Conference.

According to one source, there are around twenty million Catholics representing around 75% of the total. According to The World Factbook, 2009, 96% of the population is Catholic. [1] There are 37 dioceses including 9 archdioceses, plus separate jurisdictions for those of the Melkite and Syrian rites.

Unlike the military, the Catholic Church has not been a major political force in Venezuelan politics. The Church has never been as prominent in Venezuela as it has in neighboring Colombia.

The Church in Venezuela has been weakened, however, by a traditional lack of vocations. Many priests serving in Venezuela are foreign-born. Before Hugo Chavez's government took power, charismatic Protestant churches, on the other hand, were beginning to proselyte successfully, especially among the urban poor. However, that has diminished in recent years.[2] In the past, the Catholic Church did not have the funds, the personnel, or the enthusiasm to stem effectively this new challenge to its hegemony, but it believed it faced a greater threat with the new government of Hugo Chavez.

Even though Chavez identified as a practicing Catholic who often used religious imagery in his marathon broadcasts and visited the Pope, his policies bothered the bishops of the country, especially in the area of education. Besides its universities and colleges, the Church also runs 700 other schools throughout the country, currently subsidized by the state. In 2007,Cardinal Jorge Urosa, the Archbishop of Caracas, called for peaceful demonstrations against any direct government involvement in overseeing the Church's schools. The Church is also critical of the government for wanting to remove religious education from public schools during normal school hours.[3][4]


The Catholic Church in Venezuela heavily focuses on the veneration of the Virgin Mary. This is exemplified by such figures as the Virgen de Coromoto in Portuguesa State, Virgen del Valle in Nueva Esparta and Virgen de Chiquinquirá in the western part of the country.[5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Venezuela," CIA Factbook, 2009
  2. ^ Edward Cleary, "Shopping Around: Questions About Latin American Conversions," International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 28, No. 2, April, 2004, pp 50-54.
  3. ^ Colin Harding, "Chavez attack on religious education resisted," The Tablet, 6 January, 2007, 33
  4. ^ Colin Harding, "Accusations fly as priest is found dead," The Tablet, 6 May, 2006, 31.
  5. ^ article on Catholicism in Venezuela

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