January 11, 2011
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Roman Catholic leaders in Venezuela are calling for President Hugo Chavez to give up special lawmaking powers granted to him by his congressional allies.
The Venezuelan Bishops' Conference condemned a package of laws approved last month by the National Assembly, including one that grants Chavez power to enact laws by decree for the next 18 months. Chavez gained those powers shortly before a new congress took office with more opposition lawmakers.
A statement from the bishops released Tuesday accuses Chavez of trying to impose a totalitarian system in Venezuela.
Chavez and the bishops have feuded for years. Chavez has accused the Catholic leadership of neglecting the poor and of siding with his opponents and the rich.