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Bishops to cooperate with Venezuelan government in weapon turn-in plan

Catholic World News - July 24, 2013

At a recent meeting between Venezuela’s bishops and the nation’s justice minister, the bishops’ conference agreed to cooperate with a government anti-crime plan encouraging citizens to turn in their weapons, according to Correo del Orinoco, a newspaper with close ties to the government.

Relations between the hierarchy and the government were tense during the 14-year rule of Hugo Chávez, at times a strident critic of the Church. Vice President Nicolás Maduro became interim president upon the death of Chávez in March, and was inaugurated as president in April following a controversial election.

“Parish priests can be channels of information for citizens who are willing to join the disarmament plan,” said Miguel Rodríguez Torres, the minister for interior relations, justice, and peace. “When you sow the word of God, you cannot help but reap peace, harmony, and love, which are the fundamental values that we need.”

Archbishop Diego Rafael Padrón Sánchez of Cumaná, president of the episcopal conference, said that “the Church can act as an intermediary for those who want to lay down their arms,” according to the Fides news agency.

“However, good intentions are not enough, because although the initiative goes in line for the security of the population, the most important thing is the disarmament of the spirit and of the violence that is within us,” the prelate added. “The message of the Church is [one] of reconciliation, forgiveness, and peace, and this is why we say to political leaders and those who have public responsibilities, to moderate their language in order to express respect, in order to allow [the] anxiety, tension, and violence that exist in the country to disappear.”

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