National leaders are often held in high regard by their supporters, but very rarely are they literally deified. Such was the case in Caracas, though, where supporters of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez inserted the deceased Chavez’s name into the Lord’s Prayer.
CNN Mexico carried word on Tuesday of an “oración de Hugo Chavez” in Caracas. Maria Estrella Uribe, a member of Venezuela’s United Socialist Party, drew attention and criticism when she read an altered version of the Lord’s Prayer on Monday. In place of references to the Christian god, Uribe put Chavez’s name instead.
“Our Chavez who art in heaven, on Earth, in the sea and in us delegates,” Uribe read, “hallowed be thy name. Thy legacy come so that we can take it to people here and elsewhere.”
She didn’t stop there, though.
“Give us today your light to guide us every day,” the Chavez supporter continued. “Lead us not into the temptation of capitalism, but deliver us from oligarchy.”
Uribe gave her Chavez Prayer in front of hundreds of Socialist Party delegates and current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The delegates, according to CNN, cheered loudly for the Chavez Prayer, especially when Uribe ended it with “Viva Chavez!” Maduro, reportedly raised no objections.
Representatives of the Catholic and Protestant communities of Venezuela, though, are less than thrilled that Hugo Chavez’s name was swapped in for the Lord’s.
“From a Christian perspective,” one reverend told CNN, “we consider changing the words of the Lord’s Prayer sacrilegious, an act of idolatry and desecration and a trivialization of the sacred.”
Chavez died in early 2013, following a long battle with cancer. Chavez had been receiving high impact chemotherapy, and his death shook to the core the strong base of support he had built up around himself.
The cult of personality that sprung up around Chavez while he was alive makes the Chavez Prayer a little less surprising. While he was still living, there was a movement to establish a church and name the Venezuelan president as its bishop. His successor, Maduro, said during the campaign before his election that the late Chavez had appeared to him in the form of a little bird, and there is reportedly an altar to Chavez at his burial site in Caracas.
Dubbed a dictator by some, a man of the people by others, Chavez is said to have passed with a net worth approaching $2 billion.
[Lead image via TalCualDigital.]