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Church in Venezuela faces rationing

CARACAS — When it comes to Venezuela’s growing scarcities, not even the Roman Catholic Church has received a dispensation.

Church officials say food shortages and foreign exchange restrictions are causing a lack of ingredients needed to celebrate Mass: altar wine as well as wheat to produce communion wafers.

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They say the wheat flour used for the sacramental wafers is scarce and the supply of altar wine used for Holy Communion is threatened, which could force them to ration it.

‘‘We only have enough for two months,’’ said Archbishop Roberto Luckert, a spokesman for the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference.

He said Venezuela’s only producer of church-standard communion wine, Bodegas Pomar, recently informed the church that it can no longer guarantee production because it lacks some imported ingredients.

The church’s concerns echo those of Venezuelans in general, who have struggled to find goods such as toilet paper and staple food items like milk, sugar, and cooking oil.

Economists say the shortages stem from the socialist government’s controls on the prices of some goods and on foreign currency, which makes it hard for producers to pay for things they need to import.

President Nicolas Maduro blames the shortages on hoarding and said antigovernment forces are trying to destabilize the country.

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