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Venezuela running out of wine and bread for Holy Communion

Venezuela church officials said Friday that food shortages and foreign exchange restrictions have led to a lack of altar wine and wheat to make wafers for Holy Communion.
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A Catholic preist blesses a child during communion in St. Peter's Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland on March 21, 2010. (Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images)

Venezuela church officials said Friday that food shortages and foreign exchange restrictions have led to a lack of altar wine and wheat to make wafers for Holy Communion.

The Catholic Church said it is running out of Holy wine because of a nationwide shortage of basic supplies, with a lack of some supplies forcing Venezuela's only wine maker to stop selling to the Church.

"[Our supplier] Bodegas Pomar have told us that they can no longer make wine because they're facing difficulties," said Church spokesman Monsignor Lucker.

Monsignor Lucker also said that they had enough supplies for two more months and he did not know if the Church could afford imported wine.

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Communion wafers were said to be in jeopardy as well.

"The makers of consecrated bread have told us that they'll have to raise prices because they can't find enough flour. Wheat is not grown here; it all comes from abroad," Monsignor Lucker explained. "A packet of consecrated bread used to cost 50 bolivar ($8), but it's now 100."

The lack of wine and bread is the latest in a string of embarrassments for President Nicolas Maduro's new government, which has struggled to keep the late Hugo Chavez's socialist programs in place.

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Last month, the National Assembly had to vote to import millions of packages of toilet paper from abroad because of a national shortage.

But Maduro has put the blame on hoarding and said anti-government forces are trying to destabilize the country.

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