BY JIM WYSS
BOGOTA – Venezuela and the Vatican haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. During his 14 years in power, late President Hugo Chávez often battled with the church, accusing leaders of participating in a coup against him and calling a Venezuelan cardinal a “troglodyte” on national TV.
But on Monday, Chávez’s successor, President Nicolás Maduro, said he’d had an “extraordinary” meeting with Pope Francis, where the two men talked about poverty, politics and peace in South America.
Speaking at a news conference after their encounter, Maduro said he’d proposed that the Vatican and Venezuela work together to take the administration’s signature social missions, which include free housing and healthcare, to other parts of the world.
“It was an extraordinary conversation with a human being full of humility,” Maduro said. “I told him that I felt represented by the ethics that he expressed.”