ROME — A Venezuelan priest who concelebrated a Mass in Rome for the repose of the soul of President Hugo Chavez said the Mass was a gesture of love for God and forgiveness in Christ.
“Although there were differences between the government and the Church in Venezuela, the cardinal is showing that Jesus Christ is Father to all,” Father Ramon Fajardo told CNA.
“The Church loves, forgives and embraces everyone,” he said.
Father Fajardo, a parish priest on an island off the coast of Rome, concelebrated a Mass with Cardinal Jorge Urosa of Caracas, Venezuela. The Mass took place at Santa Maria dei Monti, Cardinal Urosa’s titular church.
During the Mass, Cardinal Urosa, who was in Rome to participate in the conclave that elected Pope Francis, commended the soul of President Chavez to God and prayed for peace and unity for the Venezuelan people.
“At this moment let us reaffirm our faith in the risen Jesus Christ, and let us pray with trust in God who is immensely merciful, for the eternal repose of the soul of President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias,” Cardinal Urosa said during his homily.
He encouraged prayers for the Venezuelan president, who died March 5, as well as for fraternal peace in the country.
Voicing condolences to the late president’s family and friends, the cardinal invited those present “to pray that the Lord will grant him eternal rest and will lead him to the joys of eternal glory.”
Cardinal Urosa pointed to various moments of difficulty in which the bishops directly aided Chavez, including his 1992 imprisonment and his brief ousting in a 2002 coup attempt, when various Venezuelan bishops reached out to him to offer aid and protection.
After reading a passage from the Gospel of St. John, the cardinal stressed that death is “a consequence of original sin” and “an integral part of human existence.”
“Christ came into the world precisely to overcome not only evil, sin and the devil, but also death,” he explained.
Through his sacrifice on the cross, the cardinal said, Christ was able to “destroy the heavy burden that distressed humanity and … turn death into the step towards joyful eternity.”
“Although death is sad, although death causes us pain, it is not something that is definitive,” he said. “We have an immortal soul and we are called to live forever. We are called to gloriously rise at the end of history.”