Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered a statement on the “Situation in Venezuela,” at the 47th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, held in Cancun, Mexico, on June 20, 2017.
Archbishop Auza also calls for a peaceful, lasting, and viable solution to the crisis in Venezuela, including urgent measures to alleviate the food and medicine shortage the people of Venezuela are suffering, to ensure Catholic institutions are able to assist and provide aid, for parties to agree upon an election date, and to accelerate the process of releasing detainees.
A Zenit working-translation of Archbishop Auza’s statement, delivered in Spanish, follows:
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Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza,
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See
To the Organization of American States,
About the Situation in Venezuela
June 19-21, 2017, Cancun, Mexico
The Delegation of the Holy See is grateful for the opportunity given to it to be able to share its concern over the present situation of Venezuela, as well as its hope that this meeting, in the framework of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, can help to solve the grave crisis the country is living.
As is well known, in several interventions from the beginning of the crisis, both the Holy Father, as well as the State Secretariat and the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, have called the public and political powers, to surmount partisan interests and ideologies, to listen to the voice of the people, to defend the common good, to create an atmosphere of serenity and social peace, to respect institutionality in favor of national coexistence and foster the social action of national and international institutions to address the undeniable crisis Venezuela is suffering and which strongly affects its population. Therefore, the Holy See has always maintained a clear position, calling all the political leaders to end the violence and exhorting them to respect truth and justice.
Without failing to exhort to negotiation, or to warn about the dangers of bellicose and aggressive speeches, the Holy See has shown at all times, its willingness to collaborate in the search for a peaceful, lasting and viable solution to the Venezuelan crisis, with the condition that both the Government as well as the Opposition request it, as in fact occurred.
As is known, in October and November of 2016, meetings were held of the Table of National Dialogue in Caracas and, taking into account that the agreements reached there were not implemented, the Cardinal Secretary of State, in the name and by disposition of Pope Francis, sent a letter on December 1 to the parties and to the remaining accompaniers. In it, in fulfilment of its role of accompaniment to which the Holy See had been called, it requested:
- That the necessary providence be taken for the urgent implementation of measures geared to alleviating the grave crisis of the supply of food and medicines that the people were suffering, while assuring the full willingness of the institutions of the Catholic Church, among them Caritas, to give all possible help, with the means at their disposition, to come out of this situation of social emergency;
- That the parties agree on the electoral calendar, which would enable Venezuelans to decide their future without delays;
- That the necessary measures be taken to restore as soon as possible to the National Assembly the role established in the Constitution;
- That a way be found to accelerate the process of release of detainees.
On the occasion of the 36th Ordinary Assembly of the Latin American Episcopal Council, held recently in San Salvador, the Bishops of the Continent pointed out that, in Venezuela, “the lack of food, the lack of medicines and the lack of liberties is becoming unbearable.”
The Holy See sees with concern how, despite the efforts made, which are known by all, the situation has acquired dramatic hues in the last months. On April 30, after the recitation of the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father appealed to the Government and to all the components of Venezuelan society to avoid any further form of violence, to respect human rights and to find negotiated solutions to the grave humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis that is affecting the population.
In this regard, my delegation wishes to point out that the present atmosphere of confrontation has also affected the Catholic Church in Venezuela. Episodes have been verified of threats to priests, violent eruptions during liturgical celebrations, unjustified accusations against ecclesiastical institutions and public defamatory attacks against some Bishops.
Despite this, the Holy See, stemming from the conviction that it must be the citizens themselves that set the basis to solve the internal problems, considers that no efforts must be spared to help the country come out of its grave crisis, because, as Pope Francis said last April 29, “all that can be done for Venezuela must be done, with the necessary guarantees.”
With the sole end to promote the good of each and all Venezuelans and to foster a peaceful and democratic solution to the present situation, the Holy See reiterates its position, already known, that a serious and sincere negotiation be held between the parties, based on the clear conditions indicated in the mentioned letter of December 1, 2016, beginning with the holding of the direct, free and transparent elections foreseen for the years 2016 and 2017, as the only way out of the grave crisis in which the country is immersed. To this end, the recent governmental decision to convoke a National Constitutional Assembly, instead of helping to solve the problems, presents the risk of complicating them further and endangers the democratic future of the country.
On the other hand, the possibility is positively valued that a group of countries of the region or, eventually, of other continents, chosen by the government as well as the opposition, accompany the negotiations by acting as guarantors.
Thank you very much, Mister President.
[Original Text: Spanish] [Translation by Zenit, Virginia M. Forrester]