San Cristobal, Venezuela, May 8, 2019 / 14:30 pm America/Denver (CNA).
A Venezuelan bishop said Sunday that prominent figures in the government of Nicolas Maduro have asked for asylum from the Church in case the regime should fall.
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó called last week for protests against Maduro. Under Maduro's socialist administration, Venezuela has been marred by violence and social upheaval, with severe shortages and hyperinflation leading 3 million to emigrate.
“Some of the principal leaders of the government went to ask the bishops' conference for the right to asylum, if the government fell,” Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta Rodriguez of San Cristóbal de Venezuela said during a May 5 Mass.
Two days later, it was announced that Manuel Christopher Figuera, a former intelligence chief and a general, had broken ranks with Maduro's government. The US declared May 7 that it had lifted sanctions against Figuera, and would consider doing so for any other defectors.
Bishop Moronta recalled the Church's right to provide refuge for people when their lives are in danger, as happened several years ago when pro-government politicians “had to hide in many of our churches.”