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Pope meets President Chavez of Venezuela

 Pope Benedict met Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela yesterday. In the course of their meeting, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls said, that the Pope had reiterated the freedom of the Holy See to appoint bishops, and expressed the hope that the Catholic University of Santa Rosa de Lima would always maintain its Catholic identity. The Holy Father also expressed his concern over an education reform project in which there would seem to be no provision for teaching religion. He further asked that public health programs uphold the fundamental principle of protecting life from its very beginnings. He also underlined the importance of the independence of Catholic media. Navarro-Valls said: "President Hugo Chavez gave assurances of his concern for the Holy Father's requests and expressed his commitment to overcome all forms of tension in full respect for everyone's rights. "Finally, the Holy Father consigned a personal letter to the president summarizing his pastoral concerns for the good of the country." Source: VIS