On Sunday, the vice president of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference, Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro, denied that bishops are accomplices of supposed plans by the opposition to foster violence.
On Wednesday, Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Rodriguez accused the Diocesan Institute of Maracay of planning a protest that took place last Monday and demanded the bishops’ conference disclose whether or not it knew of the plan. He threatened the bishops with a lawsuit and suggested they were responsible for the death of one protestor.
Archbishop Luckert said the accusations were merely an act of desperation. “They are desperate (in the government) and they are looking for enemies where there are none,” he said. “The Bishops’ Conference has never been an enemy but always a friend of Venezuela and collaborates with the government however possible,” the archbishop said.
He also expressed his concern over the “lack of seriousness” that led the government to make these accusations, adding that the statements by Rodriguez are intended “to create an atmosphere of violence before the referendum, in order to justify anything.” The archbishop reiterated the bishops’ opinion that Chavez’s constitutional reform is “morally unacceptable.”
“The president invited all Venezuelans to speak their minds about the reform. He doesn’t like that? Well, too bad,” Archbishop Luckert said. “We express our opinion, but it should be answered with arguments and not with criticism,” he stressed.
Last week Chavez called the bishops “bums, criminals and sloths.”