.- The President of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Baltazar Porras, told reporters this weekend the Conference will not make any statements about the legitimacy of President Hugo Chavez but that it does support the right of Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara to express his opinions about the national situation. (Cardinal Castillo recently blasted the Chavez government and said democracy was practically non-existent in Venezuela.)
Archbishop Porras said it was within the purview of the Conference “to make pronouncements of this type,” and he reiterated that it “had not made any official declaration” regarding whether or not Chavez should remain in power.
“We are not the ones who should decide whether this crisis can be resolved with Chavez in or out of power,” he added, noting the recent statements by Cardinal Castillo--who defended the right of Venezuelans to oust the current president based on a specific article in the country’s Constitution--were “just another episode” in the tense relations between the Church and the government.
Article 350 states the people of Venezuela “shall ignore any legislation, regime or authority that goes against the values, principles, and democratic guarantees or limits human rights.”
Archbishop Porras said Cardinal Castillo’s reference to that section of the Constitution cannot be considered “illegitimate or subversive,” and he called on all Venezuelans to work to establish a climate that would lead to an end of the polarization and confrontation affecting the country.