Venezuelan bishops defend statements about condition of country

.- The president of the Plenary Council of Venezuela, Bishop Ovidio Perez, and Bishop Mariano Jose Parra Sandoval of Guayana, said this week that the statement by the Bishops’ Conference about the condition of the country is not interference in affairs beyond their competence but rather the exercising of their duty to provide guidance to the faithful.

“The Church is made up of men and not angels,” Bishop Ovidio Perez told Union Radio, and therefore she has the duty to foster a society that is “respectful of human rights.”

He defended the pastoral exhortation issued by the Bishops at the conclusion of their 88th Plenary Assembly in which they warned about the goals of Hugo Chavez to impose a “Marxist-Leninist system, that is, a Communist system” on the country through constitutional reform.

Bishop Parra Sandoval said the bishops addressed the situation of Venezuela not in an attempt to intervene in political affairs but rather “to fulfill our duty to provide guidance to the faithful.”  He stressed that in their analysis of the current state of the country, the bishops concluded that the reforms being promoted by Chavez are aimed at the establishing of a Socialist state, “founded upon the theory and praxis of Marxism-Leninism.”

He also noted that the bishops’ statement refers to poverty, violence, unemployment, kidnappings and assassinations, and it warned that the proposed education reform would be an affront to the rights of parents, because “the first responsibility in education belongs to the family, not to the State or to the Church.”

Bishop Parra said reconciliation in the country would only be achieved through dialogue and not by imposition.  “We must listen to those who think differently,” he said, and “seek out common solutions.”

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