.- The leadership of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference issued a statement on Friday in anticipation of the Feb. 15 vote on a constitutional amendment to approve indefinite reelection for the president. The bishops encouraged Catholics to vote “without fear” and with “a conscience for the country,” calling on election officials to guarantee transparency in the vote.
The statement was read on 11:00am Friday in Maracaibo by Archbishop Ubaldo Santana, president of the Conference. The bishops noted that on Sunday “all Venezuelans have been called to a new electoral event. As pastors of the Church we exhort all Christians and men and women of good will to take this referendum very seriously and assume the task that has been assigned to them with responsibility.”
“Let us overcome apathy and indifference and let us all get out and vote. Let us vote without fear. Let us vote with a conscience for the country. Each vote is fundamental for building democracy in Venezuela,” the bishops said.
The bishops also exhorted election officials to “facilitate for voters the fulfillment of this duty as well as the exercise of their right to express their sovereign will without stumbling blocks, restrictions or manipulation.”
“Each voting place, each voting booth should be a school of democratic transparency,” the bishops said, asking that all citizens accept the official results “democratically and courageously.”
“Let us avoid violence and disorder which endanger peace and peaceful coexistence among citizens. If there are complaints or protests to be made, let them be done through the international channels,” the bishops urged.