CARACAS - Venezuelan Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, who was a prominent critic of President Hugo Chavez, died yesterday at age 85, a Catholic Church representative said.
As a Salesian, Cardinal Castillo Lara had emphasized charity toward the young, particularly the poor. He accused Chavez of becoming increasingly authoritarian. At one point, he even recommended an exorcism for the socialist president.
During one of his final Masses, Cardinal Castillo Lara said that under Chavez's rule "fundamental democratic principles are ignored or violated (and) human rights are frequently infringed upon."
Chavez has repeatedly clashed with church leaders. He once called Cardinal Castillo Lara "a hypocrite, bandit, and devil with a cassock."