.- The leadership of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference has issued a statement “in response to the atmosphere of tension and uncertainty” that the country is experiencing over “the complex crisis” between the governments of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
The bishops expressed sadness at the conflict that has developed between “sister republics” and that “beyond the immediate causes” of the crisis, “the worsening of the situation could eventually harm the climate of traditional peaceful coexistence and provoke an armed conflict between sister nations.”
The bishops emphasize that “nothing positive and lasting is achieved through violence, hatred and war, neither within our country nor with neighboring and sister countries. The search for peace is a fundamental duty for all responsible governments and, at the same time, an inescapable necessity for life and for the integral development of our countries.”
“Therefore, we exhort the national government to fulfill decisively and responsibly its constitutional obligation to preserve the internal and external peace of Venezuela, as well as to protect our sovereignty with moderation and serenity in the face of the diverse and complex elements of the current crisis. On the other hand, we hope our government will be graceful in response to the accusations leveled by the Colombian government,” the bishops said.
They have also expressed their hope that “all of the mechanisms of negotiation and mediation” would be activated and “accepted by the three nations in order to quickly achieve the re-establishing of regular diplomatic channels between our governments. This will make possible direct dialogue in seeking and strengthening peace and avoiding an escalation of the conflict.”
In their message, the bishops also deplored the “recent and embarrassing occupation of the Cardinal’s residence in Caracas by groups publicly supportive of the government and which was met with a passive response by police.”
President Chavez accounted for the invasion lead by Lina Ron—an ardent supporter of his—by saying that the C.I.A. must have convinced her to conduct the raid.
The bishops concluded their statement by calling on Venezuelans to attend Mass this Sunday to “ask the Good Shepherd to drive the scourge of war away from our peoples and to clear the paths towards peace in Venezuela and between the sister countries of our beloved Latin America.”