In a statement released Wednesday, the leadership of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela expressed its “consternation and pain” over a January 31 attack on a Jewish synagogue in Caracas.
The bishops described the attack as a “violation of a sacred space and the profanation of the most treasured religious symbols of the Jewish religion.”
This unprecedented act “in the history of our country is foreign to the spirit of tolerance and welcome that is traditional to the Venezuelan people; moreover, it is an attack on the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution about the person and religious freedom,” the bishops said.
They went on to say that “no person or religious group should be coerced or intimidated in religious matters against their conscience, nor should the teaching or public profession of faith be inhibited. Civil officials have the duty to protect and promote this right, just as they do with other inviolable rights of mankind.”
The bishops expressed their “prayer and solidarity” with the entire Jewish community of Caracas and Venezuela and said they hoped “violence and intolerance will give way to unity and dialogue among all the inhabitants of the country, with regard to origin, race or religious creed.”
According to the daily El Nacional, a group of “at least 15 armed men broke into the synagogue on Friday night and spent several hours destroying sacred objects and painting graffiti on the walls, until the early morning hours when they escaped.”