Venezuela’s opposition asks pope to mediate dialogue with government

by Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Venezuela’s opposition party pleaded with Pope Francis to mediate discussions with President Nicolas Maduro’s government to find a solution to the current crisis that has left most of the country without food or basic necessities.

Despite the “painful circumstances” of hunger, lack of medicine and violence, the United Democratic Panel “is not moved by a desire for vengeance but rather of love,” said Jesus Torrealba, executive secretary of the opposition party, in a Sept. 26 letter addressed to the pope.

“We seek your respected moral authority so that your wise counsel illuminates us and helps push forward the talks between the national government and the democratic alternative,” he wrote.

In a letter to Ernesto Samper Pizano, secretary general of the Union of South American Nations, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, had said the Holy See would assist with mediation if an official request was made by both the government and the opposition.

“Thus the Venezuelan government and the opposition will be primarily responsible for the aforementioned request and will be more receptive to receive eventual suggestions so that they may move forward in a lasting and fruitful way,” Cardinal Parolin wrote Aug. 12.

Responding to the cardinal’s letter, Torrealba formally requested the Holy See’s intervention. Only through dialogue, he said, can the country find a solution to the country’s social and economic woes as well as an “electoral solution to the humanitarian crisis.”

“Today, the majority of Venezuelans aspire for change in model, system and government, but they also hope this change will produce peace,” Torrealba wrote. “The national constitution clearly establishes what the democratic, peaceful and electoral path is that will lead to those changes.”

That path, he added, includes the right of Venezuelans to hold a referendum on the president’s term, a right guaranteed by the country’s constitution.

Torrealba urged Pope Francis to help mediate discussions with Maduro’s government, adding that the country is at “a pivotal moment in this crisis.”

“It is a time in which your guidance and wise words can be key in overcoming mistrust and we can — as a civilized society — find the path toward peace and reconciliation for Venezuelans,” Torrealba said.

Copyright ©2016 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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