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The Vatican worried about Venezuela's crisis

By Andrea Benavides, El Universal

Pope John Paul II sent a message of peace, hope, and reconciliation to Venezuelans after meeting with Monsignor Baltazar Porras, President of Venezuela's Episcopal Conference (CEV).

Porras pointed out that during his private meeting with the Pontiff, it was evident the Pope was very worried about the situation the country is going through. He said that "the Pope especially remembered his two visits to Venezuela."

According to Porras, John Paul II focused on the importance of defending the poorest and the human rights, "because it is part of our duty to preach the word of God."

Porras said that during his visit to Vatican, the Venezuelan crisis was a recurrent issue. "They asked me all the time about the situation in the country, the situation of human rights and the [presidential] recall vote and about the chances of finding a pacific solution to the conflict" in Venezuela.

Regarding recent statements by Venezuelan Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, who criticized President Hugo Chávez' government, Porras said that in difficult times, "the Church must stand up." He emphasized, however, that it is more important to fulfill "the mission of doing good to our fellow men."

Monsignor Porras added that John Paul sent a message of peace and courage, in view of the need of a reconciliation in Venezuela, "so that the Merciful Father can heal the wounds" and divisions in our society.

During his meeting with the Pope, Porras was accompanied by a group of young Venezuelan priests who are studying in Rome. "The Pope saw them as the future and hope of the Catholic Church in Venezuela," said Porras.

Translated by José Peralta

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