Venezuela: Will Francis Again Miss the Opportunity? YES!

Venezuela: Will Francis Again Miss the Opportunity? [YES!]

en.news
6/12/17

Francis’ softness on socialist dictators is backfiring on him in Venezuela. The Economist blog “Erasmus” writes that to many Venezuelans, Francis has been too willing to give the Maduro regime a free pass.

In remarks on his way back from Egypt in April, Francis dismayed critics of the regime by saying “the opposition is divided”, implying that this was an obstacle to political progress.

On June 8th, Francis received six bishops from Venezuela, who according to the blog did not mince words.

For the blog Venezuela could be for Francis “a unique opportunity to show the world that he can be as a formidable a critic of left-wing regimes and ideologies as he is of conservative and capitalist ones.”

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One comment on “Venezuela: Will Francis Again Miss the Opportunity? YES!

  1. Stop being soft on our despot, Venezuela’s bishops tell Francis

    A plea to the pope: Pope Francis could be franker on Venezuela

    [Hat-tip to PewSitter]

    Jun 11th 2017 by ERASMUS

    AN UNEXPECTED item popped up on the agenda of Pope Francis in recent days. Although the meeting did not feature in his pre-announced weekly schedule, on June 8th it became known that he had squeezed in some time to confer with six bishops from Venezuela, one of the most troubled places in the historically Catholic world.

    The visitors declared afterwards that they had stressed their absolute loyalty to the pontiff, and that he in turn had expressed his “full trust” in them. Neither statement is a platitude. There is massive contention over the role which the church has played and could play in halting a lurch towards civil war and humanitarian disaster in Venezuela, which is overwhelmingly Catholic.

    The country’s bishops have consistently challenged abuses of human rights and democratic procedure by the regimes of the late Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro. But to many Venezuelans, the pope himself has been too willing to give Mr Maduro a free pass. Last October, for example, the Venezuelan strongman turned a meeting with Francis into a propaganda coup. To this day, Mr Maduro claims that by taking such a critical stance, the country’s bishops are out of step with their own pontiff. He blames the local prelates for the stalling of a political “dialogue” which he wants to conduct on his own self-interested terms.

    As an institution which all sides want to harness, the church can hardly avoid playing a pivotal role in the ever-sharpening clash between the Maduro regime and its opponents. Catholic relief agencies, above all Caritas, are deeply involved in monitoring and mitigating the country’s humanitarian woes. Caritas reports that 11% of Venezuela’s children under the age of five are suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition; in some regions, things are much worse.

    People who know Venezuela say the church has spoken with at least four different voices in response to the country’s woes. Its bishops have been tough advocates of civil liberty and the rule of law. Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state and a former papal envoy to Venezuela, has also been clear-eyed in calling out the misdeeds of the regime.

    However, his successor as papal nuncio in Caracas, Aldo Giordano, has been much softer on Mr Maduro. And Pope Francis has at times appeared to listen to Mr Giordano. For example, in remarks on his way home from Egypt in April, the pontiff dismayed critics of the Maduro regime by saying “the opposition is divided”, implying that this was an obstacle to political progress.

    In December, Cardinal Parolin sent a letter to Mr Maduro calling for the release of political prisoners, respect for the constitution and fair elections. The government has done nothing to heed those demands, and this week’s episcopal visit was a polite way of asking Pope Francis whether the Holy See stood by them.

    By the bishops’ account of their session with the pontiff, they did not mince words. They gave their host a list of 70 people, mostly young, who had been killed in government crackdowns on peaceful protest They also put it to the pontiff that Venezuela’s internal strife was not a standoff between right and left but rather

    “a fight between a government which has turned into a dictatorship, an inward-looking [regime] which serves only its own interests, and an entire people which is crying out for freedom and desperately seeking, at the risk of its youngest lives, bread, medicine, security, work and fair elections”

    The bishops also told the pope of their total opposition to Mr Maduro’s “unnecessary, inexpedient…and dangerous plan” to convene an unelected constituent assembly next month. They believe that the real purpose of this is the imposition of a military dictatorship through supposedly constitutional means.

    Will Francis listen to the prelates, and start sending tough messages, public or private, to Mr Maduro? It could be a unique opportunity to show the world that he can be as a formidable a critic of left-wing regimes and ideologies as he is of conservative and capitalist ones.

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