Vatican City, Feb 16, 2019 / 23:00 pm America/Denver (CNA).
Pope Francis’ recent letter to Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro confirmed the Holy See’s position on the Venezuelan crisis, while demonstrating that Maduro has become an increasingly isolated global figure.
While the Holy See has long maintained its diplomatic ties with Venezuela, and for this reason a papal representative to Caracas took part in Maduro’s swearing in for his second term Jan. 10, Pope Francis and the Holy See’s diplomacy has always been on the Venezuelan bishops side, and backed their efforts to restore social peace, relief the population and call for new and free elections.
The pope’s letter, however, showed that Maduro’s request for a mediation can take place only under some specific conditions.
This is the reason why the letter was not leaked by Maduro’s entourage, but from other sources that gave it to the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera. The Holy See Press Office limited itself to saying that it would not commentc on a private letter, indirectly confirming that the pope might have actually written the letter.
The letter, two pages and a half long, is dated Feb. 7, 2019, and it is addressed to “Excelentismo señor Nicolas Maduro Moros, Caracas” (To Most Excellent Mister Nicolas Maduro Moros).
The pope did not refer to Maduro as president, and in that way his letter backed the Venezuelan bishops. Gathered for their 111st plenary assembly on Jan. 9, the bishops said that “Maduro’s claim to start a new presidential mandate on Jan 10 is illegitimate at his roots, and paves the way for the unrecognition of the government, as democratic foundations on justice and right are lacking.
In the letter, Pope Francis reminded Maduro that the Holy See has been committed to mediation in the past, but in all of the attempts “what had been agreed in the meetings was not followed by concrete action to carry out the accords,” and that “words seemed to delegitimize
the good propositions put into a written form.”
Pope Francis also stressed that he did not back “any kind of dialogue,” but only “the dialogue that takes places when all conflicting parties put the common good above any other interest and work for unity and peace.”
Pope Francis also recalled a letter by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of State, that set the conditions for a dialogue: liberation of political prisoners, re-establishment of the constitutional assembly, open access for humanitarian aid, free political elections.
Those conditions are still in effect.
The letter is tailored in a perfect diplomatic style.
On one hand, Pope Francis takes the bishops’ position. On the other hand, he places the Holy See in the middle between two positions: that of the US and Europe, eager to recognize Juan Guaidò as interim president; and that of China, Russia, Turkey and Iran, who are on the opposite position.
As a diplomatic habit, the Holy See never breaks diplomatic ties. Papal ambassadors are called to stay on the ground as long as it is possible, to support the bishops and to carry on institutional dialogue that can resolve into an aid for population.
For example, the Holy See never broke diplomatic ties with Cuba, not even when Castro regime persecuted Christians. In fact, ties stayed because there was an ongoing persecution.