Venezuelan Bishops Plead for Proposals to End Country's Crisis

CARACAS, Venezuela, DEC. 16, 2002 ( Amid the general strike against President Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan bishops’ conference urged government and opposition negotiators to offer “reasonable and urgent” proposals for the good of the country.

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The bishops’ statement, entitled “Let Us Avoid Destruction, Let Us Build Reconciliation” and published Friday, appeals for peace and tolerance.

Asked if he could suggest ways out of the crisis, the president of the episcopal conference, Archbishop Baltazar Porras of Merida, answered: “We do not have a concrete answer to that, but what we do ask with anguish, firmness and hope is that those who have this responsibility offer an alternative.”

“It is imperative to find ways that are peaceful, democratic, political in the noblest sense, in keeping with the manifest will of the sovereign people,” the bishops’ statement says.

“The escalation of confrontations that we have experienced in recent days threatens to become a national tragedy,” the episcopal conference explained. “This crisis already has claimed its dead, whom we must not forget.”

The bishops made an appeal for respect for the media, the object of violent attacks in recent days. At the same time, they called on the media to exercise “its ethical and professional responsibility, without manipulation or alarmism.”

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