New Venezuelan Episcopate Leader Tells of Priorities

CARACAS, Venezuela, JAN. 13, 2006 ( The new president of the Venezuelan episcopal conference says his priority will continue to work with the poor and the weak in this troubled nation.

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«If there is a mission that continues to be particularly valid in Venezuela,» said Archbishop Ubaldo Santana of Maracaibo, «it is to assist that immense mass of Venezuelans who call for greater respect, greater dignity, greater juridical, physical, civic and political tranquility. And to reach the last of them continues to be for us a priority mandate.»

Archbishop Santana, 64, was elected to the presidency during episcopate’s 85th Ordinary Assembly, being held in Montalban.

He succeeds Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida in the post he held for two consecutive terms.

The appointment takes place after years of tension between the conference’s executive body and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Archbishop Santana said he would give special importance to guiding, orienting and supporting all Venezuelans and would work in direct communion with the Pope.

The new president of the conference «insisted that this institution has always been an open space for all those who want to find peaceful solutions, ways of understanding and overcoming of violence, which will continue unchanged.»

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