CARACAS, Venezuela, JULY 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The "Reformed Catholic Church" in Venezuela is not recognized in any way by the Catholic Church and the faithful are being urged not to associate themselves with it.
The group presented itself in Venezuela two weeks ago. It was started by former Lutherans, Anglicans and Catholics, including two priests who Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino described as "in bad canonical situations." The members profess support for President Hugo Chávez.
The Anglican Communion also issued a communiqué stating that they do not recognize the group.
Archbishop Ubaldo Santana Sequera of Maracaibo, president of the Venezuelan episcopal conference, expressed his opposition to the use of the word "catholic" by the group.
In statements to "El Universal" newspaper, Archbishop Santana said that "anyone can express his or her religious proposal; what seems to me to be a usurpation is the use of the word Catholic in the title."
The Archdiocese of Maracaibo issued a communiqué stating that "this new religious group presumes to establish itself as an alternative to the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church, at the same time using the same symbols, vestments, nomenclature, titles and sacramental and liturgical services as the Catholic Church. They also presume to call themselves Catholics without being united by obedience either to the Pope or to the Catholic hierarchy, even encouraging the ordination of new bishops without the express mandate of the Roman Pontiff."
The archbishop and his auxiliary bishop urged the faithful to "remain alert so as not to allow themselves to be divided or dragged into religious confrontations, to work to strengthen the internal unity of the Catholic Church, and to foster a climate of respect and coexistence among all Venezuelans."