ere's been a series of rowdy incidents in churches across Venezuela over the last six weeks or so. My name is Andrew Cawthorne with the Reuters in Caracas. I'm standing outside the San Pedro Claver Catholic Church.
This is a poor area that's tradition that been a hot bed of militants support for the socialist government especially the late Hugo Chavez.
About three weeks ago some 300 or so worship was were here at mass. When a group budged in at the back they shouted insults at the priests like Satan in a cassock or fascists. And they also shouted pro government slogans like long live Chavez. The group's leader actually took the pulpit and gave a speech where he denounced the church for being over political.
The church of course are furious at this. They say it's the latest in a whole series of incidents across the country including the stoning of Caracas Cathedral. A protest outside an archbishop's house in Barquisimeto. And the entering of police into a church in Maracaibo. They said the government is trying to intimidate them, to stop them speaking out.
Because in the last couple of months the church had been far more vocal and far less shy about criticizing the government. They say that the failure of socialism in Venezuela is the root cause of the country's economic crisis. The hunger that we're seeing at the moment, the long lines at shops and the shortages of basic products.
The government are angry the with church too. They say that bishops and other church leaders have sold out on their vocation of standing with the people and are in fact standing with the opposition now. They say that the church leaders in fact represent a wealthy business elite who are intent on getting rid of President Maduro via coup.