Early life and ordination
Castillo Lara was born in San Casimiro, diocese of Maracay, in Venezuela's Aragua State, on September 4, 1922. Third son of seven children, he was ordained a priest on September 4, 1949, by his uncle, Archbishop Castillo Hernandez of Caracas.
In 1950 he went to Italy to study canon law at the Salesian University in Turin. In September 1954, he was named professor at the faculty of canon law, at first in Turin until 1957, then in Rome until 1965. He became Secretary and then President of the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law, the result of whose work was published in 1983.
He was elected Bishop of Precausa on March 26, 1973, and promoted to Archbishop on May 26, 1982. Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal during the Consistory of May 25, 1985, and two days later appointed him President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
He became President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See on December 6, 1989, a post to which he added on October 31, 1990, that of President of the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City. He was also a member of several other bodies, including the Cardinals' Supervisory Commission for the Institute for Religious Works, commonly known as the Vatican Bank.
Relations with Hugo Chavez's government
Castillo Lara was one of the Venezuelan ecclesiastic figures most opposed to the government of Hugo Chávez. In 2006, during a Holy Mass, the cardinal made a homily asking to pray “with fervour to the Virgin Mary to save Venezuela. We are living a very grave situation, like a few times in our history”. Castillo Lara repeatedly accused Chávez of becoming increasingly authoritarian. At one point, he even recommended an exorcism for the socialist president while Chávez once called Castillo Lara "a hypocrite, bandit and devil with a cassock."
|Catholic Church titles|
|President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See|
6 December 1989–24 June 1995
| Succeeded by|
Jose Tomas Sanchez