Sandro Magister wonders why the Vatican is silent on the persecution by the Venezuelan government against the Church:
The number of dead is now around forty, the wounded number a thousand. It is the price of a month of popular demonstrations, even of only women dressed in white, against the presidency of Nicolás Maduro, in a Venezuela on the brink.
A Venezuela in which a new factor has recently taken the field, and this is the growing, systematic aggression against properties and personnel of the Catholic Church.
Vatican sources – starting with “L’Osservatore Romano” – as detailed as they are in covering the developments of the crisis, are sparing with news about aggression against the Church.
There is not a single reference to this even in the letter that Pope Francis wrote on May 5 to the Venezuelan bishops, who on the same day published a vibrant declaration against the announcement made by Maduro of a “constitutional convention” to reform the state for his use and consumption, meaning in practice – the bishops charge – to impose “a totalitarian, militaristic, violent, oppressive police state system” even worse than the “21st-century socialism” set up by Maduro’s predecesssor, Hugo Chávez, a leader still praised by many leftist populist groups in Latin America and elsewhere.
For Sunday, May 21, the bishop have called a “Day of prayer for peace in Venezuela.” But meanwhile, here is an initial survey of the aggression against the Catholic Church, published by the Venezuelan journalist Marinellys Tremamunno in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana of April 2:
> Venezuela, inizia la persecuzione della Chiesa
Nothing is off-limits. Death threats and blasphemous graffiti on the walls of churches. Masses interrupted by incursions of Chavist “colectivos.” Caracas cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino silenced during the homily and forced to leave the church. The venerated image of the Nazarene in the cathedral of Valencia smeared with human excrement. The chanceries of the dioceses of Guarenas and Maracay plundered. Thefts of consecrated hosts in Maracaibo. The headquarters of the episcopal conference devastated. One priest killed in Guayana and another abducted.
But it doesn’t end there. On May 4, the doors of the cathedral of Caracas were damaged and its walls were covered with graffiti in praise of the government. That same day, a crowd of students from the Catholic university marched on the episcopal residence, as a sign of solidarity.
Because by now the bishops too are an “enemy” against whom the Maduro presidency is lashing out with vehemence. Especially after the failure at the outset of the attempt at mediation between the government and opposition groups supported at the end of last year by pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio through his envoys:
> Venezuela, a Nation on the Brink of the Abyss (7.11.2017)
The stance adopted by the Vatican authorities to foster a reconciliation among the parties was that expressed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, formerly the nuncio in Caracas before his appointment as secretary of state, in the letter he sent to the parties in mid-December, “in the name and at the behest of the Holy Father.”
In it, he identified four conditions for the opening of dialogue:
– humanitarian channels to guarantee the population food and medicine;
– restitution to the parliament (in which the opposition groups are in the majority) of the prerogatives stipulated by the constitution;
– the liberation of political prisoners;
– new free elections.
But the Maduro presidency has not wanted to meet any of these conditions. On the contrary, it has made additional decisions that have ramped up the repression.
And Pope Francis has been punctually informed about everything. Also through direct conversations with Venezuelan bishops, including the president of the episcopal conference, Cardinal Baltazar Porras Cardozo, archbishop of Mérida, who met with the pope in Rome on April 27, on the eve of his journey to Egypt.
So one can understand the disappointment and anger of many Venezuelans, including bishops, when two days later, on April 29, during the customary press conference on the flight back to Rome from Cairo, Francis said this about the crisis in Venezuela:
“There was an effort by the Holy See, but this did not produce results, because the proposals were not accepted, or were diluted with a ‘yes, yes, but no, no.’ We all know the difficult situation in Venezuela, which is a country that I love very much. I know that now there is insistence – I believe on the part of the four former presidents [of Colombia, Spain, Panama, and Santo Domingo – editor’s note] – to restore this facilitation. I believe that conditions have already been presented. Very clear conditions. But part of the opposition does not want this. Because it is curious, the opposition is divided. And, on the other hand, it appears that the conflicts are intensifying all the time. There is something astir, I am informed about it, but it is very much up in the air. But everything that can be done for Venezuela must be done. With the necessary guarantees. If not, we are playing ‘tintìn pirulero’ [where everyone wants to get out of paying the pledge – editor’s note], and this is no good.”
The next day, Sunday, April 30, speaking at the “Regina Caeli,” Francis moderated somewhat the dismissive words he spoke on the plane against the Venezuelan opposition groups, practically blamed for being the ones who ruined the agreement. He addressed “a heartfelt appeal to the government and to all the components of society that every further form of violence be avoided, human rights be respected, and negotiated solutions be sought for the grave humanitarian, social, political, and economic crisis that is devastating the population.” But this correction has by no means calmed the waters. Twelve hours later, in fact, the opposition groups wrote a letter to the pope in which “not divided but unanimous” they said that they agree to the conditions set by Cardinal Parolin – unlike the government, which has always rejected them – and indicated free elections as the only way out of the crisis.
The fact is that between Pope Francis and the Venezuelan bishops, concerning the crisis that is ravaging the country, there is an abyss. The bishops stand with the population that is protesting against the dictatorship, and are respected and listened to as authoritative guides. While Bergoglio is judged on a par with Pontius Pilate, unforgivably reckless with Maduro and Chavism, in addition to being incomprehensibly reticent on the victims of the repression and on the aggression that is striking the Church itself.
Go here to read the rest. Of course the Pope has been busy. Slamming libertarianism leaves only so much time in the day.