Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas said the Church is willing to help establish peace in Venezuela, but reminded the government of its duty to rein in armed groups that are violently disrupting peaceful demonstrations.
“There are armed groups that don't seem to belong to the security forces of the State. Why are they acting with impunity when the government is in charge of arms control? The government need to rein in these groups,” he told Venezuelan television Feb. 20.
Cardinal Urosa noted that the constitution protects the right to publicly demonstrate, as long as it is done in a peaceful manner.
He also lamented the death of the 21-year-old model Genesis Carmona in Valencia when an armed group attacked a demonstration.
The Church is against any attempt to overthrow the State, the cardinal clarified, and the bishops “are willing to take part in any effort to achieve peace.”
“We don't have any weapons besides our words for inviting people to abandon violent attitudes, pride and anger. This needs to be eradicated from our hearts,” he said.
A week of demonstrations in Venezuela has left seven people reported dead in various cities, particularly Caracas and Valencia. Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez remains in a military prison outside the capital after being detained Feb. 19.
Criticism is also mounting over the discontinuing of medical treatment for Father Jose Palmar, who was beaten by police officers and National Guard soldiers this week after he tried to prevent them from attacking a group of students who were demonstrating in the city of Maracaibo.