.- The bishops of Venezuela gathered in a Plenary Council issued a statement Monday expressing their “complete and absolute solidarity with Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara,” one the harshest critics of President Hugo Chavez who has been the target of his verbal attacks.
In the statement, the bishops signaled their support for the cardinal “in response to the attacks against him, which have troubled not only the members of the Church, but the entire Venezuelan people.”
The bishops also rejected the attempts to discredit and mistreat those who express opposing views in political matters, saying “all persons and institutions have the right to believe according to their own convictions; such a right must be maintained and respected in any democratic society.”
They also acknowledged the difficult period which the country is facing, and they encouraged Cardinal Castillo to continue “carrying out his mission of proclaiming the beatitudes and denouncing everything that harms fraternity, coexistence, freedom, justice and peace.”
According to the president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Baltazar Porras, the recent statements by Cardinal Castillo “were in support of what the Bishops’ Conference itself said in its last document, which praised some of the government’s achievements but criticized some of its failures.”