Venezuelan cardinal calls for end to violence

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas exhorted Venezuelans to listen to the call of Pope Francis to end the violence that has swept the country after the April 14 elections.

Stressing the "need for dialogue and respect" to overcome violence, including verbal attacks and threats launched between the administration of Nicolas Maduro, who was recently elected president, and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

"I am concerned that we Venezuelans are facing a political crisis," Cardinal Urosa said. He recalled that the bishops issued a statement on April 17 insisting on "the need for mutual recognition by both parties, so that there can be a solution, an agreement, a peaceful and democratic outcome to the current crisis."

In an April 28 interview with journalist Carlos Croes of Televen, Cardinal Urosa also said any sentiments of anger and annoyance should be set aside and the rhetoric should be toned down, "because that is only way to have a conversation."

The cardinal said he had not spoken with Maduro and that the bishops are waiting to hear from him and would like to help facilitate a meeting between the government and the opposition.

During the interview, he said that while the bishops recognize Maduro as constitutionally elected, the opposition has "the right as well to demand that any doubts be cleared up" regarding the results of the election.

"I think that the opposition's request for a recount needs to be addressed, in accord with the terms that were reached on April 18," the cardinal said. "I think the uncertainties need to be cleared up."

Rather than continue in a spirit of confrontation, he added, "we need to come together as brothers."

Cardinal Urosa also referenced the growing sense of insecurity on the streets, which according to journalist Carlos Croes, "affects 80 percent of Venezuelans," as well as the Church.

Pointing to a priest who was killed almost two months ago, he warned of a "terrible increase in crime, and this must also be put down, this should be totally controlled and eliminated."

He concluded by reiterating the bishops' willingness to facilitate a dialogue between the government and the opposition. 

"We are willing to seek out the necessary elements for a just and peaceful solution. We are willing to do what is necessary in order to achieve peace," the cardinal said.

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