An Idiot's Guide to Meeting the Pope

When visiting His Holiness, one is encouraged to wear a dark suit and not sit on the floor.

By the time you read this, President Nicolás Maduro will have arrived at the Vatican to meet his Holiness Pope Francis.

I. Can’t. Wait!

How-oh-how will he screw this up? Let me count the ways…

Vatican protocol is serious business. The Pope is both the Head of State of the Vatican and the representative of God on Earth. So you might want to make sure you know what you’re doing before you and you “spouse” traipse up to the third-floor private library to meet him.

Which brings me to my first point. Maduro is not married to Cilia Flores. They’re living in sin. This could have been easily solved by Nicolás just leaving his companion at home and meeting the Pope on his own, on a strict I-am-the-President capacity.

But obviously Cilia’s not about to forego the sightseeing and CADIVI-spending opportunities that Rome might afford her. Rumor has it they’ve even taken to wearing wedding bands lately. And the jury is still out on whether or not she properly divorced her previous husband.

If the Pope looks the other way on this, then Madonna definitely deserves to be un-excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Just sayin’.

Secondly, Maduro comes bearing gifts. He is reported to have brought with him to Rome two paintings, one of perennially-soon-to-be-beatified Venezuelan doctor José Gregorio Hernández, and another one of His Supreme Beingship, Chávez Mesmo the First.

Now, I remember my ten commandments, and I believe it was number 1, something about “Thou shall have no other gods before me, ” so the painting miiiiight rub the Catholic Church the wrong way. Gifting His Holiness a portrait of our dead president alongside one of a church-recognized venerable figure is a not-too-subtle suggestion that Chávez himself deserves to be canonized. While gifts that presidents and prime ministers give popes are quite varied, they usually tend heavily towards old books, medals, vases and the like … not portraits of deified leaders that, let’s not forget, frequently trash-talked the Church on national television (calling Cardinals “troglodytes” and “cavemen” were particularly nice touches).

Oh, and also, might I add that Maduro’s gifted artworks are being bestowed upon the man that sleeps next to Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel? Where, I wonder, will the Vatican choose to display these newly added masterpieces? Perhaps Chávez’s likeness could be sandwiched right between Boticelli’s Temptation of Christ frescoes and Raphael’s tapestries.

A delegation of opposition representatives led by Edgar Zambrano (AD) will meet with the Pope on Tuesday. No word yet on whether or not they’ll be bringing a painting of Capriles.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Hilarious.
    At least the presence of “mi mujer” will reinforce his much-advertised hetero bona fides in the presence of the celibate-all-male-not-gay church leadership.

    • I suppose Cilia was introduced to the Pope as La Primera Combatiente, as the news report from VTV (see below) labels her, thus sidestepping all Church morality on the subject.

      • Note to Cilia: State visit dress code for women is black skirt or dress that reaches at least the knees, black top with mid- to long-sleeves, no pants, simple jewelry, dark closed-toe shoes, and a black hat or veil is optional.

        Keep it classy, Cilia.

        • Well So she was received or only for the picture? I remember when Chavez, went and He went with The first daughter, the one with the kid, and divorced, and she was not allowed to go ( or rumor has it!)
          The thing is Reviewing pictures of Maduro , From 2 years He is always with a ring in his left hand… And I reviewed past pictures, and he never had it! I have asked this so many times – Sorry I don’t watch in TV any video or sound, I don’t want to destroy my Tv, or Laptop, so I prefer to read- Some people said that they got married at Chavez, last wish… ( Are you bored start looking for old pictures , I really fond of this one ( the hands, the look to the father, the pose of do you want a cafecito?)

          That is an old picture, then start looking at other pictures…. now see the ring!

      • More importantly, I think, is why a poor country like Venezuela is sending so many idiots to see Mr Bergoglio. One would do. I didn’t see Rousseff with so many people.

        • I’m sorry, but: a) the pope is not hearing confessions or giving communion; he’s receiving a Head of State (inasmuch as the Church can muster); b) Venezuela civil law recognises common law marriages, and whether Maduro and Cilia are living beyond the law, is a private matter (inasmuch as the Pope might be concerned).

          I’m a Roman Catholic (“and ‘ave been since before I was-a born”), but wouldn’t like the Pope meddling into Venezuelan civil law. Jeeesus.

          • You are answering to Syd, right?
            I don’t care whether Cilia is dressed in red and shorts (“es cuestión de clase” or “diplomacy” is something I found completely pointless) or whether she is legally anything…but this Maduro character, even if he were the president, should not be wasting so much money by taking the whole circus….one or two people would have been enough. He is using money of a country much poorer than Uruguay or Brazil.

          • Well The thing is Yes he is a Head of State, but,even if you want to visit San Pedro there is a dress code…and in Diplomacy, religious or not you have to follow… Look up when Chavez went with her eldest daughter who was divorced she was not allowed to go.. And For the sake of the argument…maybe they just passed her as some funcionaria…so what is the problem? and she is dressed modestly…or it was only for the picture!!! I don’t care if they are married or not…and yes it worries the fact that it seems that everyone went to Europe for the trip, but the bolsas que pagamos impuestos and have to deal with Cadivi!

        • Oppenheimer points out the same thing in his Cuentos Chinos…All part of the self-importance Maduro and his peeps inherited from Chavez.

      • Technically she is also part of the cabinet as she is the attorney general, I doubt she was there under the “first lady” status.

  2. If it were to go anywhere, I’m visualizing the painting of Chavez hanging near exit from the main musei along with all the other works from the Collezione di Arte Religiosa Moderna.

    Where else can you find Rodin, Chagall, van Gogh, Gauguin, Dix, Dali, Chirico, Klee and Kandinsky all in such close proximity of each other? Its like, what, one big room subdivided into 4 sections spanning all of 50 feet? Surely the august and departed commander belongs there amongst the religious iconography of some of the greatest painters and sculptors in recent history? Heck there’s even some Picasso pottery and paintings by Francis Bacon! (Sorry, that last is a tease…the artist, not the philosopher/math dude.)

    Why, even the pope must bow to the will of El Comandante Pajarito-Presidente!

    On second thought, somehow I don’t see the painting making the cut. Although I will say that everyday, Maduro and Venezuela become something more of a Dali-esque painting.

  3. Just another non-sequitur to add to the list. I found it quite hilarious once Maduro went ahead to attribute Francis’ election to the influence of Chavez’s spirit (Oh, the blasphemy), not only because Chavez never hid his distaste for the Church and its clergy, as Emiliana pointed out, but also because Pope Francis is a public enemy of our supposed friend and ally, Titi Kirchner.

    • Oil for regime-friendly priests. The deal is that the Stato della Città del Vaticano should send priests to Venezuela who are more open to Da Process and in exchange the Vatican can sell Venezuelan oil to the best bidder.

      And this is not the end. Tibisay Luena is said to be planning a trip to the Holy Seat in order to explain the benefits of Smartmatic, the same she did in West Africa a few years earlier. Smartmatic is supposed to be more environmentally friendly (no black or white smoke) and there is paper trail. Lucena will tell the Pope only God will know who voted for whom.

    • Giordani too..! It’s like the Communist Vatican Field Trip!! All for 20 minutes of face time… How much is the Cadivi allowance for 20-minutes-to-Rome I wonder?

      • You ARE kidding. Where is the list of socialist visitors to the Vatian? Comrade Giordani there? Perhaps because he speaks Italian, right? Did Jaua’s wife also go? To show that the minister for Foreign Affairs is not gay?
        If Alberto Müller were alive today he would be going: “Oh, my Marx! Oh my Marx!”

        • Yes, Kepler. Lick your political wounds after this great successful visit which makes the opposition look completely ridiculous.

    • Giordanis and Ramirez presence in Maduros entourage can probably be explained because of their italian origins ( in the case of Giordani) or that of his italian speaking wive ( in the case of Ramirez) , They will appreciate a trip to their ancestors land and be gratified at speaking italian before their boss. Its a holiday trip for the group !! Its really ridiculous to think that strict marxists will value the implicit endorsement of their legitimacy by assumming the Popes acceptance of their visit as such . Why give the popes civil response such importance if you dont think the Pope’s behaviour has any relevance . Goes to show that deep down they are not true marxists but opportunists , their marxism if for show.

  4. Quibble: Excomulgar = excommunicate. As for the presents for the Pope, this clip, showing Maduro’s arrival doesn’t list the painting of the Supreme Commander but rather something else, that sounds for all the world like ‘morral’. Does anyone hear this as did I? Any suggestions?

  5. I can almost hear Maduro asking recommendations of his Holiness on what other Vatican cities he should visit while on this trip.

    • Imaginary victories over imaginary foes.

      Faux-oiled assassination attempts? Check. Hypothetical invasions defeated in theory? Check. Pseudo-coups d’etat? Check! Defeating a hallucinated air force of 18 planes flow by disaffected opposition types attempting to promulgate the downfall of chavismo instead of letting it collapse from the rot within? Checkcheckcheckitycheck!

  6. Yes, Emiliana, absolutely hilarious but mean and small-minded at the same time! The same goes for other comments on this thread.

    You write stuff like this since you know that the visit to the Vatican is extremely important in the process to delegitimize opposition claims for “fraud”.

    One can hardly blame you trying to undermine this visit to the Vatican but it has happened and is yet another nail in the coffin of the Venezuelan opposition’s attempts to delegitimize and undrmine the Maduro government.

    I can hardly believe it! We have teh Vatican and the USA backing the government or at least recoginizing it. Only fools and losers such as MCM. Ledezma, Borges, LL and Ismael continue the farce of refusing to recognize the government. Even Diosdado has more credibility tan these people.

    Capriles’ letter did not make any difference. Watch this video to cheer you all up.

    Then start nit picking your way through it as it is all that you have left until another stunning defeat on December 8th.

    All this and there is no need to mention the recognition given by the FAO to Chavez’s policies to erradicate hunger in Venezuela. The last weekend has been otra estocada para el fascismo en Venezuela.

    • The agenda may have been to try to neutralize MUD’s claims, but this is very obviously a field trip for those in the Chavista Elite who wanted to meet the Pope. As to fulfill the “agenda” you didn’t need to show up with the finance minister, Oil Minister, and some of these guys in military uniform that I have no clue who they are.

      And you claim that all that was achieve in the 20 minutes they met? Which I am pretty sure went by in introductions, gifts and adulation.

      • It does not matter if they arrived in three Maseratis or three Rolls Royces. I guess it would have been more aceptable to you if they had arrived on motos.

        Get over it. Your mean spirited criticism will not take away the impact of the visit and the CREDIBILITY it gives to Maduro.

        You have no clue who the people are in Maduro’s entouage since you know NOTHING about Venezuela. Well….perhaps I am wrong there….you probably know all you need to know about LL, Capriles etc.. I.E. the losers.

        Sufffer on!

        • sure… I know nothing… Could you please enlighten me on the role of the finance, oil minister in the meeting? A 20 minute meeting.

          Tourism. State sponsored luxury tourism is what this was.

          I am sorry if you perceive my comments as mean as they are not intended that way. Just pointing out the obvious. It pains me how there is so much need for many things and these guys are just living at large.

        • Arturo, we get it. The ends of Credibility does not, however, justify the means, which are what this post is about, and you wish to skipover…

    • “I can hardly believe it! We have teh Vatican and the USA backing the government or at least recoginizing it.”

      True enough…I suspect they are possibly “recognizing it”, much like a bosun boy taking the big ship for a joyride in a busy harbour might be “recognized”….

  7. “Secondly, Maduro comes bearing gifts. He is reported to have brought with him to Rome two paintings, one of perennially-soon-to-be-beatified Venezuelan doctor José Gregorio Hernández, and another one of His Supreme Beingship, Chávez Mesmo the First.”

    On one of the press releases for today’s visit, the gift of “His Supreme Beingship, Chavez Mesmo the First” was omitted as part of the list of gifts presented. Perhaps the painting was ‘rejected’ by the Vatican prior to the visit?

    • Think about what you are writing. If something was not mentioned in the press reléase, it was not on the list. Well, perhaps on your imaginary list?

      • Arturo watch this movie “La historia Oficial” –> I hope that you understand that yes they could say something officially…and no, sorry The government of the US haven’t recognized Maduro, they talk they haven’t recognized…and he could wait to see if he is going to have the picture at THE WHITE H…that Even Evo has…your commander did not….. And that does not mean countries still have relations….

    • Yes, among otehr activities. I guess it’s like going to see the tomb of Carlos marx if you do to London before you go to see the Queen?

      Even you JC, have descended to nit mpicking. This proves how much this vsit to the vatican has hurt the opposition.

      • Actually, I don’t think Maduro is so much a Marxist as a moron trying to remember the guy Chávez fancied so much. Maduro, admittedly, is the best useful idiot for the Castro brothers and he found in communists a group in which to develop his life of non-work…but the bloke probably has less insight into Marxist theories than a cactus.
        Marx said religion is the opium of the people, but nowadays it’s mostly politics. For Maduro this guru in India and Cuban santería and ‘Marxism’ as he tried to comprehend in his days in Cuba in the eighties or while travelling with the caudillo are more of the same…it’s like for others motorcycle racing…the only difference is that this movement allows Maduro and his acolytes to become very rich.

    • Good catch! Most prez would first ask themselves ‘what kind of message will thiis send to the international communiity and my compatriots.” Not Maduro – a dyed in the wool Marxist who doesn’t care.

    • Antonio Gramsci began his political journey in the city of Turin, the home of FIAT. After World War I he organised a number of ‘workers councils’ in the burgeoning FIAT factories in the city. Violence erupted in those factories on a number of occasions as a direct result of Gramsci’s instigation and his hatred of the Turin-based company, FIAT, and the capitalistic aspirations it stood for. So, like, Maduro, Ramirez, Giordano et all, drive to his grave site in brand new, luxurious, $140,000 + Maserati’s, owned by, well, FIAT. Right. Go figure. The very least they could have done was bring along a couple of those state-of-the-art Turpial’s from the Venezuelan factory, the product of Persian-Chavista cutting edge automotive technology. That would have shown a little more sincerity at the grave site.

    • I´m willing to bet that was Giordani´s day and Nicolas was probably confused because he thought that guy Chomsky was still alive.

    • Looks as though they spent as much time on Gramsci as the Vatican. Also, isn’t there some protocol about use of military uniforms on foreign soil, unless visiting in an official capacity, into which category the Gramsci-grave episode can hardly fall? The manic-depressive capybara must feel as challenged as ever starting this new week!

  8. The real reason for the Maduro-Pope meeting (not included in the official agenda) was Maduro’s application of Chavez for Sainthood, based on three (to date, more coming) well-witnessed miracles: 1) The appearance to Maduro of Chavez as a bird, in the patio of Chavez’s humble Barinas hacienda, witnessed by Maria Gabriela Chavez, who was in an overlooking study, where she was adding up the billions of $ Chavez left in numbered accounts around the world under her sole signature; 2) The appearance to Maduro of Chavez in a painting in the Cuartel De La Montana (mentioned in the M. Silva audio), witnessed by criminal fugitive La Piedrita Colectivo head Valentin, from his room in the Cuartel, within easy walking distance of 23 De Enero Tupamaro headquarters; and 3) The appearance to Maduro of Chavez in the Caracas Mountains (“The hills are alive, With the face of Chavez…”),witnessed by numerous Chavistas, at a mitin in Catia. The Pope took this application under advisement, awaiting the opinion of chief Vatican exorcist Gabriele, especially as to whether the exorcism of the embalmed is possible….

  9. Did you notify your imaginary father figure that I did a no-no?

    Santo Chavez! se ponen sensibles con sus amigos imaginarios…


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here