Friday, 16 January 2004

Caracas (Fides Service ) – “We must be authentic servants of the Poor” was the title of a statement issued by the Bishops of Venezuela at the end of the 81st Ordinary Assembly of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference in Caracas. The statement in three parts, dated January 9, focuses on the question of peace.
In Part 1 - “Peace is threatened” – the Bishops call on the people to give attention to all those situations and attitudes which can darken the future of the country because they give rise to the suspicion of a search for individual interests instead of the common good, and so prevent peace and progress in the country: “This is putting the country in a direction which threatens democratic participation and independence of public powers. It tends to encourage centralism…some groups and leaders would seem to promote their own interests”. The Bishops denounce “the use or manipulation of religious symbols in political demonstrations” and “lack of respect for the value of human life seen by the number of violent deaths every week”.
Concerned for the present situation in the country the Bishops underline the need to “reach understanding among all citizens, particularly between government and opposition”. “A sign of hope on this path to peace and reconciliation is the right to hold referendums ” the Bishops say. They urge the government to welcome the will of the public and overcome formalism and political manoeuvres.
In Part three of the statement, “Filled with hope”, the Bishops say that the sons and daughters of the Church have a grave duty to proclaim liberty, democracy and justice starting from the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “We Christians of Venezuela must realise our duty to contribute to building a society, more human, more Christian, a society of more solidarity and fraternity”. (R.Z.) (Fides Service 19/1/2004; lines 24; words 327)