By Linda Bordoni
“Once again”, Pope Francis said on Sunday, “I would like to express my closeness to the beloved people of Venezuela, who have been particularly hard hit by the continuing crisis”.
Addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus, the Pope asked the faithful to join him in asking the Lord “to inspire and enlighten the parties involved, so that they can reach an agreement as soon as possible that will put an end to the suffering of the people for the good of the country and of the entire region”.
The Venezuelan bishops asked Thursday that president Nicolas Maduro resign from the office which he “illegitimately” exercises and that a new president be elected in the shortest time possible.
“In face of the reality of an illegitimate and failed government, Venezuela is crying out for a change of direction, a return to the Constitution. That change demands the departure of the one exercising power illegitimately and the election in the shortest possible time of a new president of the republic,” the bishops said in their July 11 apostolic exhortation, released at the end of their general assembly.
Under Maduro’s socialist administration, Venezuela has been marred by violence and social upheaval, with severe shortages of food and medicine, high unemployment, and hyperinflation. More than 4 million Venezuelans have emigrated since 2015.
The bishops also cited a July 4 report from the UN human rights commissioner which said the government has committed a variety of human rights abuses, including a high number of extrajudicial killings.