Crisis in Venezuela: the ingenuity of a priest to bring the Church closer through Tik Tok

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Father Honegger Molina opens the doors of his church, in eastern Caracas, daily. And transmit their masses through the networks.

In the central hall of a church located in a middle-class neighborhood in the east of the capital, the priest Honegger Molina coordinates with more than a dozen of his Eucharistic ministers, some of them connected by internet, the stages of the Mass to correct the errors of the ceremony and guarantee health security measures in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

If it weren’t for his black priest’s garb, it could be assumed when listening to Molina, 45, that it is not a father who speaks but the company’s manager.

Without meaning to, the priest has broken with the conservative scheme of the Catholic Church in Venezuela, giving it modernity, management and even a connection with millennials by creating an account on the TikTok platform.

Not even the quarantine in force since March has stopped Molina, of Jesuit training, who despite the presidential order that prohibits concentrations in churches has carried out the masses in his parish Anunciación del Señor in La Boyera, keeping biosecurity measures, in against the current to many of his colleagues who have kept the churches closed for more than six months _a decision that has been a severe blow to many parishioners in Venezuela, a country mostly Catholic.

The religious, who also has a degree in journalism and teaches classes at the School of Social Communication of the Andrés Bello Catholic University (UCAB), took advantage of the pandemic to expand the penetration of the Catholic Church via Internet and took to Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to broadcast his parish’s ecclesiastical ceremonies daily, attracting hundreds of followers _mainly over 40 years old.

Molina said in an interview with The Associated Press that not only the inhabitants of Venezuela have joined the initiative of online masses in the midst of the pandemic, but also many Venezuelans living in other countries in South America and Europe who migrated in the last years fleeing from the brutal crisis that plagues the South American nation.

Laughing, the priest, who is currently studying a doctorate in history at UCAB, confessed that he recently joined TikTok and published six videos in that application to reach children and young people and “bring messages of evangelization to that generation.”

Molina is a native of the coffee-growing town of Canaguá, in the western state of Mérida, and began in the priesthood 20 years ago _period during which he has been closely linked to Cardinal Baltazar Porras, whom he now accompanies as Episcopal Vicar for the communications of the Archdiocese of Caracas.

Molina’s priesthood career has coincided with the turbulent years that Venezuela has lived after the arrival to power of the late President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) in which relations between the government and the Catholic Church have been very strained.

Both Chávez and President Nicolás Maduro have pointed out to the Venezuelan authorities of the Catholic Church to attack the government with “lies”, while the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference has accused the current president of implanting a “totalitarian system” and seeking to remain in power “at the cost of the suffering of the people.”

Molina admitted that these two decades have been very complex because the governments of Chávez and Maduro “have given great strength” to various cults and religious sects.

“It has been a very hard experience, very difficult, but never to give up, never to surrender, never let the Church lose space,” he added.

While some critics of Molina consider him a priest with a dominant political discourse, opposition orientationOthers, like Francisco Villasmil _a maintenance employee of the Annunciation of the Lord parish, assures that he is a “very special” religious because “he always looks for the solution to everything. For him there is no impossible. ”

AP

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