Updates on Venezuela from Catholic World News

Updates on Venezuela from Catholic World News

No comment from the Pope or the Vatican except a call for more dialog

July 11, 2017 – Venezuela’s bishops call on Maduro to cancel plans for new constitution

The bishops of Venezuela have called upon President Nicolás Maduro to respect the independence of lawmakers and cancel the planned July 30 election for a “Constitutional Assembly” that would draft a new constitution.

In 2015 parliamentary elections, opposition lawmakers gained a 109-55 majority in the National Assembly—the first time since 1999 that the party of Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, became a minority party.

In March 2017, the pro-Maduro Supreme Tribunal of Justice stripped the National Assembly of its powers. The Tribunal reversed its decision following a wave of protests.

In May, Maduro called for a new constitution and announced the July 30 election, which the opposition has decided to boycott.

July 12, 2017 – Leading Venezuelan bishop decries Maduro regime’s oppression

Addressing his brother bishops as they gathered for their summer meeting, the president of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference said that the Holy Spirit is at work in the nation’s dioceses, leading the faithful to pray and share their goods during a time of national crisis and great need.

Archbishop Diego Padrón Sánchez of Cumaná cited the work of Caritas in providing food and medical care.

Stating that the Church is not politically partisan, the prelate said that the bishops have told Pope Francis that “there is no longer an ideological conflict between right and left,” but instead “a struggle between a self-referential dictatorial government that only serves its own interests, and a whole people that clamors for freedom.”

The prelates, he continued, have also told the Pope that the Maduro regime’s call for a new constitution will lead to “constitutionalization of a military dictatorship, socialist-Marxist and Communist,” with negative ramifications for human rights.

Evoking an image from the Gospel, Archbishop Padrón concluded by saying that even when Christ is asleep in the boat, the disciples should not lack faith, for His heart of full of love for His people.

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8 comments on “Updates on Venezuela from Catholic World News

  1. Further update on Venezuela from Catholic World News:

    Venezuela’s bishops issue ‘urgent message’ on rising oppression

    July 13, 2017

    Stating that the majority of Venezuelans support their views, the bishops of Venezuela issued an “urgent message” on July 12 condemning oppression committed by President Nicolás Maduro’s regime.

    The bishops cited unconstitutional trials before military tribunals, allegations of torture, and the imprisonment of political detainees in military facilities and maximum security prisons.

    Stating that legitimate legislative authority rests in the National Assembly, in which the opposition party holds a majority, the bishops expressed grave concern about the regime’s plans to convoke a constitutional assembly to draft a new constitution.

    At the beginning of their message, the bishops expressed their full communion with Pope Francis and quoted the Pope, who said that “in the voice of the Venezuelan bishops, my voice also resonates.”

  2. Catholic World News – July 18, 2017

    Venezuela’s bishops back opposition plebiscite; shots fired on crowd outside church

    Amid rising malnutrition and fears of a future Marxist dictatorship, over seven million Venezuelans took part in an unofficial plebiscite on July 16 on President Nicolas Maduro’s proposal to convoke an assembly to rewrite the nation’s constitution.

    The symbolic vote was organized by the opposition party, which holds a majority of seats in the nation’s legislature. Over 98% of participants in the symbolic plebiscite voted against the proposal to change the constitution.

    The Venezuelan bishops declared that the plebiscite enjoys “full legitimacy,” and the bishops’ Twitter feed featured photographs of several bishops voting.

    [Nonetheless, the dictator Maduro is still going ahead with his July 30th election for a National Constituent Assembly to “rewrite” the Venezuelan constitution in his favor. He is deploying the army to insure the “success” of that election]

    After Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Catia, armed Maduro supporters fired on a crowd of voters outside the church, killing one person and injuring several others. Hundreds took refuge in the church until the cardinal was able to mediate their safe departure.

  3. Vatican’s Secretary of State condemns attack on crowd outside Venezuelan church

    [Nonetheless, the dictator Maduro is still going ahead with his July 30th election for a National Constituent Assembly to “rewrite” the Venezuelan constitution in his favor; he is deploying the army to insure the “success” of that election]

    Catholic World News – July 20, 2017

    Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, condemned an attack by supporters of President Nicolas Maduro on a crowd outside a church near Caracas.

    After Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Catia on July 16, armed Maduro supporters fired on a crowd of voters outside the church, killing one person and injuring several others. Hundreds took refuge in the church until the cardinal was able to mediate their safe departure.

    The day was a tense one in Venezuela: amid rising malnutrition and fears of a future Marxist dictatorship, over seven million Venezuelans took part in an unofficial plebiscite on President Maduro’s proposal to convoke an assembly to rewrite the nation’s constitution.

    In his telegram to Cardinal Urosa, Cardinal Parolin also expressed hope that the Maduro regime would “listen to the request for liberty, reconciliation, and well-being that comes from the Venezuelan people,” according to a L’Osservatore Romano report.

  4. From Catholic World News:

    July 27, 2017 – Venezuela’s bishops: military must serve people

    As opposition forces in Venezuela called a nationwide strike to protest President Nicolás Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian rule, the episcopal conference called on members of the military not to become instruments of oppression.

    The bishops, “together with the clamor of the majority of the Venezuelan people, demand that the armed forces fulfill their duty to be at the service of the people,” the bishops’ conference has tweeted twice in recent days.

    July 28, 2017 – Venezuela’s bishops reiterate opposition to Maduro effort to rewrite constitution

    Venezuelans will go to the polls on July 30 to decide whether to approve President Nicolás Maduro’s proposal to rewrite the nation’s constitution.

    The socialist regime has banned all protests between July 28 and August 1, with the nation’s justice minister threatening protestors with jail terms of five to ten years.

    On July 27, the nation’s bishops reiterated their opposition to the proposal and urged Venezuelans of all political views not to resort to violence.

  5. ‘Free our country from the clutches of Communism and socialism,’ Venezuela’s bishops tweet

    July 31, 2017

    Supporters of socialist strongman President Nicolás Maduro went to the polls on July 30 and approved an assembly to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution.

    The opposition party, which holds a majority in the current national assembly, boycotted the vote, and the nation’s bishops denounced it as unconstitutional. The US and UK characterized the election as a sham, and Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, and Mexico said they would not recognize the result.

    Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who served as apostolic nuncio to Venezuela before being named the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said before the vote that the Pope has tried “very hard” to find a “peaceful and democratic” solution to the nation’s crisis.

    As the vote was taking place, Venezuela’s episcopal conference tweeted, “Most holy Virgin, Mother of Coromoto, heavenly patroness of Venezuela, free our country from the clutches of Communism and socialism.”

  6. Venezuelan bishops reject ‘illegal’ vote, blame government for violence

    August 01, 2017

    The Catholic bishops of Venezuela have rejected as “illegal and invalid” the national ballot that was held July 30 to elect a new parliament.

    The government of President Nicolas Maduro called the election to replace the National Assembly, which is controlled by the opposition party. The opposition boycotted the July 30 vote, and many other nations—including the US, Mexico, Colombia, Paraguay, Spain, Canada, and the United Kingdom—have indicated that they will not accept the results as valid.

    President Maduro plans to install a new National Assembly that will rewrite Venezuela’s constitution, consolidating his power. Two weeks earlier, in another national vote organized by the current National Assembly, an overwhelming majority cast their ballots in opposition to a new constitution.

    “The bishops are unanimous in their rejection of this new assembly,” said Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas. He explained that the results of the July 31 vote would not reflect the will of the people.

    Cardinal Urosa also said that the Maduro government should be held accountable for the violence that caused at least 10 deaths during the election. “This is the responsibility of the president of the republic, the high command, and the ministers,” the cardinal said. “They will have to explain this to God.”

  7. Catholic organizations: be open to Venezuelans fleeing oppression

    August 03, 2017

    A coalition of over a dozen Catholic organizations and religious orders that serve migrants and refugees has called upon people and governments in Latin America to be open to Venezuelans who are fleeing the nation’s political repression and severe economic crisis.

    * * *

  8. Vatican opposes Venezuelan government’s plan for new constitution

    August 04, 2017

    The Vatican has issued a statement urging the government of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro to abandon its plans to install a new National Assembly and rewrite the country’s constitution.

    The August 4 statement from the Secretariat of State is the strongest Vatican statement to date opposing Maduro’s effort to consolidate power. The Catholic bishops of Venezuela have consistently opposed the government’s expansion of powers and endorsed public resistance, while Pope Francis has avoided siding with either party in the Venezuelan conflict.

    Maduro’s government plans to install a new national assembly, which will draft a new national constitution to give the president sweeping new powers. The members of the national assembly were selected in voting on July 30, but the opposition boycotted the vote and international observers viewed the ballot as illegitimate. The Venezuelan bishops denounced the vote as unconstitutional, since it was not authorized by the existing parliament, which is controlled by the opposition.

    The Vatican statement called for the “avoidance or suspension of ongoing initiatives such as the new constitutional assembly that, more than favoring reconciliation and peace, promote a climate of tension and confrontation and mortgage the future.”

    The statement also asked all involved parties, but particularly the country’s security forces, to avoid “excessive and disproportionate use of force.” More than 100 people have been killed in clashes between demonstrators and police. The Venezuelan bishops, who have encouraged demonstrations against authoritarian rule, have criticized the government for the excessive use of force by police against the demonstrators.

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