Venezuela's leader has demanded an explanation after a Roman Catholic cardinal said that the country was becoming a dictatorship.
President Hugo Chavez described the Church's behaviour as "undoubtedly a provocation" and demanded a full apology for the "insults" and "hate".
He said there was a conspiracy in Rome and at home to bring his government.
So far, there has been no public reaction from the Church leadership to this latest row with President Chavez.
Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, the most senior Catholic clergymen in Venezuela, told thousands of worshippers at a pilgrimage in honour of the Virgin Mary that the country had "lost its democratic course and presents the semblance of a dictatorship".
Venezuela's socialist leader has now hit back by saying this was "shameful for the Catholic Church".
Read the complete article Venezuela head angry at cardinal from BBC News.
President Chavez is amusing. Every single time Cardinal Lara or some other cleric makes the comment that Chavez is on the path to becoming a dictator, Chavez responds with the same rhetoric, that it is shameful for the Church to accuse him, Hugo Chavez, of becoming a dictator.
What is shameful is that Hugo is already a dictator...