VENEZUELA – Attacks against the Church escalate
Venezuelan bishops have openly criticised President Maduro’s “repressive nature through the suffocation of legitimate protest with excessive and inhuman violence.” Citing the government’s “repressive nature through the suffocation of legitimate protest with excessive and inhuman violence,” the bishops said that they cannot ignore “the sadness and suffering that this regime is provoking in our people.”
They bishops stand with the population that is protesting against the dictatorship and are respected and listened to as authoritative guides… but they are paying a heavy price for this. Now the bishops and the Church are considered an “enemy” against whom the Maduro presidency is lashing out with.
The Vatican, and even Pope Francis, has been strangely reticent on the increasing repression in Venezuela. They have failed to condemn the killing of dozens of innocent civilians during non-violent protests or even comment on the persecution of the Church itself.
Only a few brave Venezuelan journalists dare to speak out against the persecution of the Church. Among the worst incidents were:
- Death threats and blasphemous graffiti on the walls of churches.
- Masses interrupted by gangs – Caracas cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino was silenced during the homily and forced to leave the church.
- The venerated image of the Nazarene in the cathedral of Valencia smeared with human excrement.
- The chanceries of the dioceses of Guarenas and Maracay plundered.
- Thefts of consecrated hosts in Maracaibo.
- The headquarters of the episcopal conference devastated.
- One priest killed in Guayana and another abducted.
- The doors of the cathedral of Caracas damaged and its walls were covered with graffiti in praise of the government. That same day, a crowd of students from the Catholic university marched on the episcopal residence, as a sign of solidarity.