Supporters attend the closing campaign rally for Venezuela's acting President Nicolas Maduro on April 11, 2013, where they hold up a painting depicting the late President Hugo Chavez, left, Jesus Christ, center, and independence hero Simon Bolivar, right, in Caracas, Venezuela.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A rewriting of the Christian Lord's Prayer to commemorate the late Hugo Chavez is causing controversy in Venezuela.
Venezuela's Roman Catholic Church is denouncing the used of the socialist leader's name in an "untouchable" prayer. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro defends it, and calls critics "new inquisitors."
The back and forth started on Monday, when socialist party delegate Maria Estrella Uribe read the prayer at a party convention.
"Our Chavez who art in heaven," she began, continuing, "lead us not into the temptation of capitalism."
Chavez's legacy has taken on a religious glow in Venezuela since the leader's death last year. Rosaries adorned with Chavez's face, shrines and images depicting him with a Christian cross have become commonplace. Followers often say they believe Chavez was on a divine mission.
On Wednesday, the Venezuela Catholic Church released a statement calling the Lord's Prayer "untouchable, saying it "is the archetypal prayer for Christians around the world, and comes from the very lips of our Lord Jesus Christ."
On Thursday, Maduro defended Uribe's modification, and said she was being targeted by new inquisitors who wanted to turn her humble prayer into a sin.
During his presidency, Chavez frequently crossed paths with Venezuela's church, which sometimes accused the socialist leader of becoming increasingly authoritarian. Chavez described Christ as a socialist and said local church authorities were misleading the Vatican with warnings that Venezuela was drifting toward dictatorship.
Venezuela is 90 percent Catholic, though many marry their Christianity with Santeria and other syncretic belief systems.