.- The Bishopsâ Conference of Venezuela has announced its official position regarding the constitutional reform undertaken by President Hugo Chavez, who seeks to turn the country into a Socialist state.
In their exhortation, the bishops warn that the reform plan âharms the fundamental rights of the democratic system and of the human person, endangering freedom and coexistence. We consider it unacceptable in light of the Social Teachings of the Church.â
The bishops went on to note that the Chavez proposals, âdue to the radical and profound changes they would bring to the structure of the State, go way beyond reform.â They emphasized that the proposal of a âSocialist Stateâ would violate Venezuelaâs Constitution, exclude those with opposing views from the political process and restrict freedoms.
âIn this proposed Socialist model, the State and the government would be led by a president who could be continuously re-elected, with extremely wide powers that would allow him control over institutions, property and resources. A Socialist, Marxist, Leninist, Statist model is contrary to the thinking of the liberator Simon Bolivar and is also contrary to the personal nature of the human being and the Christian vision of mankind, because it establishes absolute dominion of the State over the person.â
The bishops pointed out that the experience of other countries that have adopted such systems has led to oppression and the loss of personal freedoms, as well as economic hardships and increased poverty. They also reiterated that the âsolution to the drama of poverty, to social injustice and hurtful inequalities is found neither in unrestrained capitalism nor in Marxists Socialism, but in the practice of social justice and effective charity.â