Catholic World News

Vatican opposes Venezuelan government’s plan for new constitution

August 04, 2017

The Vatican has issued a statement urging the government of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro to abandon its plans to install a new National Assembly and rewrite the country’s constitution.

The August 4 statement from the Secretariat of State is the strongest Vatican statement to date opposing Maduro’s effort to consolidate power. The Catholic bishops of Venezuela have consistently opposed the government’s expansion of powers and endorsed public resistance, while Pope Francis has avoided siding with either party in the Venezuelan conflict.

Maduro’s government plans to install a new national assembly, which will draft a new national constitution to give the president sweeping new powers. The members of the national assembly were selected in voting on July 30, but the opposition boycotted the vote and international observers viewed the ballot as illegitimate. The Venezuelan bishops denounced the vote as unconstitutional, since it was not authorized by the existing parliament, which is controlled by the opposition.

The Vatican statement called for the “avoidance or suspension of ongoing initiatives such as the new constitutional assembly that, more than favoring reconciliation and peace, promote a climate of tension and confrontation and mortgage the future.”

The statement also asked all involved parties, but particularly the country’s security forces, to avoid “excessive and disproportionate use of force.” More than 100 people have been killed in clashes between demonstrators and police. The Venezuelan bishops, who have encouraged demonstrations against authoritarian rule, have criticized the government for the excessive use of force by police against the demonstrators.

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