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Venezuelan bishops encourage resistance as government moves to eliminate opposition

April 03, 2017

The Catholic bishops of Venezuela have condemned the “morally unacceptable” move by Venezuela’s government to abolish the country’s parliament. The bishops spoke of open resistance against the government.

Last week the country’s Supreme Court, which is allied with the government of President Nicolas Maduro, abolished the National Assembly, which is controlled by the political opposition. The move was the latest in a series of steps the government has taken, in a time of mounting national crisis, to consolidate its own power.

“We cannot remain passive, frightened, or hopeless,” the Catholic bishops said in a statement released on March 31. “It’s time to very seriously, and responsibly, ask if civil disobedience, peaceful demonstrations, appeals to the national and international public power, and civic protest, are valid and opportune measures.”

Archbishop Diego Padron, the president of the episcopal conference, went further. He said: “Today, in the Venezuelan Church, there’s no authentic spirituality if we don’t have an attitude of resistance in the face of power.”

The Venezuelan goverment—which has clashed repeatedly with Church leaders since the ascent of the strongman Hugo Chavez—has declined to engage in talks with the opposition to resolve the country’s crisis. The Vatican had originally agree to help mediate talks, but withdrew after the Maduro regime failed to carry out promises that had been made as a basis for the negotiations.

Meanwhile Venezuela has slipped into a devastating economic collapse, with widespread shortages of good, medicine, and other necessities triggering angry public protests and episodes of violence.

 
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