Dissident Catholic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, in Chile on a four-day visit to "give strength" to traditionalist Catholics, said today that the Catholic Church has come "very close to communism" and he questioned the church's emphasis on human rights.
Lefebvre's visit here is part of a tour through the United States and several Latin American countries to explain his opposition to reforms introduced in the Catholic Church in the Second Vatican Council and to promote a return to the traditional Latin Mass.
His strident condemnation here of communism rights - a banner of the Chilean Catholic Church - sounded a harmonious note with the official policy of Chile's military government. It thereby threatened to rekindle the simmering controversy between the church and pro-government Catholics over the church's human rights activities.
Lefebvre was met at Santiago's Pudahuel Airport yesterday by about 400 Chileans who chanted attacks on the Catholic heirachy here and Raul Cardinal Silva Henriquez, known for his quiet defense of human rights.
The demonstrators shouted, "Lefebvre Si, Silva Henriquez, no." They bradished signs, some written in Latin, and a baner saying, "Down With Red Priests, We Are Catholics."
Lefebvre's tour began in eastern Texas with the cansecration of a church where dissident Catholics can gather to hear the Latin mass in difiance of a Papal ban.
He visited Colombia and Brazil before arriving in Chile. According to news service reports he was not allowed enter Mexico. The government of Argentina, where he plans to go next, reportedly has also indicated that he will not be welcome.
The Chilean Catholic Bishops' Conference has forbidden Lefebvre from using churches to celebrate Mass and the Santiago Archdiocese warned that Catholics who attend Lefebvre's Masses would automatically incur the penalty of interdict, a church punishment just short of excommunication.
Cardinal Silva in a sermon yesterday, said, "A bishop has just arrived in our city who has betrayed the scared vows of obedience to the supreme pontiff and of love for the church." He added that the Lord's response to "traitors" and Judas was "infinite kindness."
In a news conference today, Lefebvre critized Cardinal Silva for his role as head of the Chileandent Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in a 1973 military oup.
"According to what I have read in the newspaper, the Cardinal was rather a friend of President Allende. It causes me great pain that the head of the church should be the friend of a man who espoused the principles of communism," he said. Allende died in the coup.
Lefebvre said that the Communist parties of Europe have joined with Vatican in attacking him and his trouble with the church, "are more political the religious."
The Catholic Church has taken a new direction since the Second Vatician Council that has brought it closer to communism, he said, and the current emphasis on human rights is an attempt to adapt to the principles of modern society.
"The Church always rejected human rights as they were presentedby the French Revolution. The church's principles have always been based on the Ten Commandments and not on human rights," he said.
Despite the Chilean church ban, Lefebvre said a Latin mMass in a rented exhibition room at the Sheraton Carrera Hotel an hour after he arrived. An estimated 800 persons attended the Mass, sung in Latin Gregorian chant, and the archbishop said later there were not enough wafers "for all of them to receive communion."
A spokeman for the Chilean government said it would have no official contact with Lefebvre.
The peaceful demonstration at Pudahuel Airport was permitted by police despite a rigid ban in Chile on public demonstrations. Two other demonstrations allowed to take a place in the last 18 months also attacked the Chilean church for alleged leftist sympathies.