Late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez may have had a hand in picking the new pope. Since he’s in heaven now, he was in a prime spot to advise Jesus Christ to select a Latin American pope, according to interim Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected as new leader of the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday. His election was a surprise to many, as Bergoglio, who chose the name “Pope Francis I,” will be the first non-European pope in nearly 1,300 years.
According to acting Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, Pope Francis I was elected because Hugo Chavez and Jesus are BFFs.
“We know that our commander ascended to the heights and is face-to-face with Christ,” Maduro said in Caracas shortly after Pope Francis I’s election on Wednesday. “Something influenced the choice of a South American pope, someone new arrived at Christ’s side and said to him: ‘Well, it seems to us South America’s time has come.’”
Apparently, Chavez’s influence reaches beyond the grave, with Maduro arguing that he will also wield incredible political power in heaven as he did on earth.
“He (Chavez) may also call a constitutional assembly in Heaven at any moment to change the (Catholic) church on Earth so the people, the pure people of Christ, may govern the world,” Maduro added.
Chavez died last week after a long struggle with cancer, and his passing has been treated with “quasi-religious fervor” by many of Venezuela’s poor, reports Reuters. He won favor among his country’s poor by spending heavily on social programs and defying Western capitalism.
Maduro seeks to turn grief over Chavez’s death into election gold, hoping to win the presidential vote on April 14.
In life, Chavez always claimed to be a devout Catholic, even more so during his final two-year battle with cancer. During a Mass for his health last year, he wept and asked God to extend his life. Still, he often butted heads with Catholic leaders, whom he accused of favoring Venezuela’s elite.
Maduro’s election opponent Henrique Capriles tried to get himself a bit of limelight recently as well, by sending a congratulation letter to Pope Francis I.
“I ask you to bless Venezuela and Venezuelans, bless families and he who writes to you,” wrote Capriles, who is also a devout Catholic.
Do you think that Hugo Chavez helped Jesus pick Pope Francis I?