Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, the Catholic archbishop of Caracas, will celebrate a funeral Mass in honor of the late President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez in Rome, where he is to attend the conclave to elect a new pope. According to a statement published by the Fides news service, "Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, will celebrate a Mass for the funeral in Rome, in a place and date to be announced, and calls on all Venezuelans who want to participate in a religious ceremony to pray for President Chavez." Chavez died at a military hospital in Caracas on March 5.
Cardinal Urosa Savino expressed his "condolences" to the family of the late President, and urged the authorities "to apply the mechanisms provided for by the Constitution" and all sectors of society to promote "calm and harmony of the people." "In particular, it is necessary to exclude all forms of violence," he added.
The situation at the hospital where Chavez was tense. There the reporter Carmen Rengifo, representing a Colombian multimedia group, was attacked and beaten by Chavez supporters on the evening of February 5 while she covered her beat in the Venezuelan capital. Human rights organizations and media roundly deplored the assault on freedom of the press. Tensions between Venezuela and Colombia have been high through much of Chavez's reign, nearly bringing about a war two years ago.