Although Venezuala's Catholic bishops congratulated the country for holding peaceful elections Oct. 7, they said the results show two starkly competing views on how to build Venezuelan society.

"The existence of two visions for the country, revealed in results of the election, is a fact that should be taken into account with regards to the building of the country, so that we can live in harmony, solidarity and peace," the bishops said in a statement Monday.

With 54 percent of the vote, incumbent leader Hugo Chavez, 58, defeated his 40-year-old opponent Henrique Capriles in the Oct. 5 election.

In the wake of the results, which disappointed both locals and many worldwide hoping for a regime change, the bishops said that dialogue and reconciliation are a permanent task that goes beyond the electoral contest.  

"Each day is an opportunity to achieve mutual respect and understanding, which leads to the good of the community," they said.

 The civil conduct of all parties in the election and the acceptance of the official results should "definitively dispel the doubts about possible anti-constitutional plans and threats of destabilization."  

"No one should resort to these arguments without expertise and justifiable reasons," the bishops added.

They invited supporters of both Chavez and Capriles to "reflect on the consequences and responsibilities that this brings with it, always keeping Venezuela in mind."

"Respect for the constitution and our laws, the defense of the rights of persons, especially the poorest and those most in need, the promotion of the common good, a plan for the country characterized by inclusion, should be on the agenda of everyone," the bishops said.

They called on "all Venezuelans to be builders of hope. These attitudes will lead us to overcome the social and political divisions."