Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in 'stable' condition: Govt

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela's government says President Hugo Chavez is in a "stable situation" receiving treatment due to a severe respiratory infection.

The government provided its latest update on Monday night.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said the government is in "permanent contact" with Mr Chavez's medical team and relatives who are with him.

He did not give details but said that Mr Chavez's treatment is being applied "constantly and rigorously".

Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Venezuela are warning that the country's stability is at risk due to growing tensions surrounding the president's long absence after cancer surgery in Cuba.

Catholic leaders in the Venezuelan Bishops Conference said on Monday that conflicting statements by the government and opposition ahead of Mr Chavez's scheduled swearing-in for a new term on Thursday make for a potentially dangerous and violent situation.

"The nation's political and social stability is at serious risk," said Bishop Diego Padron, the conference's president, reading a statement from the organisation.

Catholic leaders also criticised the government for failing to provide more details about Mr Chavez's condition, nearly a month after his cancer operation.

"The government hasn't told the nation all of the truth," Bishop Padron said.

Government officials have called Mr Chavez's condition delicate and say he's been fighting a severe respiratory infection.

The president has not spoken publicly since before the Dec 11 surgery. Since then, government officials have provided regular updates but no details of his complications.