Holy See Makes ‘Urgent’ Appeals for Venezuela to Avoid Violence, Guarantee Rights

The Holy See says Pope Francis is following the crisis in Venezuela very closely and has issued urgent appeals for all political actors, especially the government, to guarantee rights and freedoms, and for the society, as a whole, to avoid violence.  It also called for a suspension of the new Constituent Assembly, tasked, by President Nicolas Maduro, with rewriting the constitution while possessing almost absolute powers.

The Vatican expressed this today, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in a statement issued by the Secretariat of State in response to the crisis in the South American country, and the political crisis over the installation of this assembly. According to Associated Press, opposition lawmakers said on Thursday that Maduro is pushing the country towards civil war.

It reiterated the Holy See’s “profound concern” over the radicalization and worsening of the crisis in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, given the increase in the dead, wounded and detained.

Noting that the Holy Father, directly and through the Secretariat of State, is closely following the situation and its humanitarian, social, political, economic as well as its spiritual implications, the statement stressed that Pope Francis also assures “his constant prayer” for the country and for all Venezuelans, while inviting the faithful worldwide to “pray intensely” for this intention.

“The Holy See,” the communique stated, “appeals to all political actors, and the government in particular, to:

  • guarantee full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as for the existing Constitution
  • avoid or suspend ongoing initiatives such as the new Constituent which, instead of favoring reconciliation and peace, foments a climate of tension and confrontation and puts the future at stake
  • create the conditions for a solution negotiated in line with the indications expressed in the letter from the Secretariat of State dated Sept. 1, 2016, taking into account the grave sufferings of the population due to the difficulty of obtaining food and medicine and the lack of security.”“Finally, the Holy See,” the statement concluded, “addresses an urgent appeal to the whole society to avoid every form of violence, inviting the security forces, in particular, to abstain from the excessive and disproportionate use of force.”

    In August of 2016, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was nuncio to Venezuela before being called to Rome by Pope Francis, called for the search for the ‘common good’ to prevail.

    In December of that same year, Cardinal Parolin called for four main measures: 1) the adoption of measures allowing the arrival of humanitarian aid: food, medicines, basic necessities; 2) the adoption of an electoral calendar; 3) the restitution of Parliament’s constitutional powers; 4) the release of political prisoners.

    This May, the cardinal called on the government to give sovereignty to the people.

    The Venezuelan bishop, on June 8, 2017, came to consult Pope Francis on the situation: they demanded humanitarian aid and the renunciation of the repression.

    The same month, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered a statement on the “Situation in Venezuela,” at the 47th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, held in Cancun, Mexico, on June 20, 2017. On that occasion, the Holy See called for a solution and urgent measures.

    It expressed support for establishing a group of countries to promote negotiations for peace among civilians to return to Venezuela. It also pleaded for humanitarian assistance, elections and release of prisoners

    On July 3, Cardinal Pietro Parolin told Italian news agency ANSA that the “criterion” of decisions had to be “the good of the people.”

    A few days later, the Cardinal Secretary of State condemned the violence that targeted parishioners of the Carmen de Catia church in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 16, 2017. In a message he sent to Cardinal Jorge Urosa Sabino, the Vatican Secretary of State called the leaders to listen to the cry of the people.