Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas denounced what he called the “serious problem” of President Hugo Chavez’s proposed constitutional reform, which would mean that “there would be no room for anything but Socialist ideas in the life of the country.
In an interview with the Televen channel, Cardinal Urosa said the constitutional reforms which will be subject to a referendum on December 2, would convert the country from a “social State of rights and justice” to a “Socialist State,” entailing “a structural change that would mean that Socialism would be the sole ideology, the only economic model, the only form of politics, the only form of culture, in such a way that there would be no room for anything but Socialist ideas in the life of the country.”
The Constitution, he said, is a guidepost for the entire life of the country, and the Chavez reforms would put an end to “freedom of conscience, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, economic freedom.” The cardinal said he was surprised at the degree to which the reforms would limit economic activity.
The main problem, Cardinal Urosa continued, is that the reforms would reverse progress in human rights in Venezuela, “and therefore we say it is unacceptable.” He stressed that the bishops are not speaking as politicians or partisan supporters. “We are not promoting any kind of bias,” he added. However, “we are not indifferent to the problems of the country,” he went on, “and we have the duty to speak out with the light of the Gospel and of the Church’s social teaching about what is happening in the country.”
“Religion cannot be dislodged from the life of the nation, and that is what concerns us,” the cardinal said.
He called on Chavez to soften his rhetoric against those who oppose the reforms. “As members of the Bishops’ Conference,” he said, “we do not accept disrespect, insults or offenses nor are we going to take refuge in the sacristy.”