By Devin Watkins
“We express our full solidarity with the people and Church of Venezuela,” say the Catholic bishops of Latin America.
Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, President of the Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM), sent those words of support in a letter on Friday.
The bishops of Venezuela appealed Thursday for an end to the “illegitimate and failed” government of Nicolas Maduro, without naming him personally.
Latin America’s bishops second that call, saying the nation needs “legitimate government”.
They say Venezuelans are facing a “complex and dramatic political, economic, and social situation, where democracy, human rights, and care for Creation are at stake.”
Crisis in Venezuela
A recent UN report found evidence that Venezuelan security forces have murdered at least 6,800 people since January 2018.
It also called the health system “dire” and documented violations of the right to food.
Venezuela’s economy is on track to shrink by 25% this year, and residents face unprecedented food shortages and extreme inflation.
Church helping provide food aid
The bishops of Latin America commend Caritas Venezuela, the local arm of the Catholic Church’s humanitarian agency, for helping confront the “urgent need” for food aid.
They urge all Venezuelans to “opt for a harmonious and peaceful coexistence, lived in justice, freedom, and solidarity.”
“We fully agree” with the country’s bishops, they write, “that politics must be at the service of fundamental ethical principles and that violations of human dignity are violations against God Himself.”
The crisis in Venezuela has forced around 12% of the population, or some 4 million people, to emigrate since 2014, most to nearby Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil.
Latin America’s bishops reaffirm the Church’s efforts to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate “our Venezuelan brothers and sisters” into the nations where they have fled.
Concluding the letter, Archbishop Cabrejos confirms the bishops’ intention to help the Venezuelan people and Church, and prays for the intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto, the Patron of Venezuela.