.- Archbishop Jorge Urosa Savino, Vice President of the Bishops Conference of Venezuela, addressed national leaders this week, saying the bishops’ statements on the referendum do not make the Church a “partisan actor” and that the bishops will not be silent because they cannot be indifferent to people’s suffering.
“The Catholic Church is not a partisan actor; we are shepherds, servants and teachers of all the Venezuelan people, independent of their political sympathies. We are impartial but that does not mean we are indifferent to suffering, to the problem of violence, of unemployment, and to exclusion,” the Archbishop said.
Although he did not address the criticism by Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel of Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, who denounced Sunday’s referendum as election fraud, Archbishop Urosa insisted that “the members of the Catholic Church are not political actors in a partisan sense, they are not biased. We are not on the side of the government nor of the opposition, we simply maintain our position as the People of God and that is how it is perceived by the great majority of Catholic Venezuelans.”
Archbishop Urosa also clarified that politic violence is provoked by armed groups that attack peaceful political protests, a reference to an incident last Monday in which protestors against President Hugo Chavez were fired upon by government supporters.
The Archbishop called for “the exiling of political violence that has gone on too long and continues to bring grief to many Venezuelan families.”