Caracas (Agenzia Fides) - Friday, July 21, the Day of prayer and fasting for liberty, justice and peace in Venezuela, promoted by the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference to ask God to bless the efforts of the Venezuelans. In the note sent to Fides, the Bishops recall that at a diocesan and parish level there will be other initiatives of this kind during which "thousands of people will be able to express their faith through processions, prayer vigils, rosaries, to ask God for help in this crucial moment".
The initiative was proposed at the end of the 108th Plenary Assembly, held from 7 to 12 July. In the urgent Message to Catholics, the Bishops said: "As Pastors of the Church in Venezuela, we raise our voice to ask: the national government to withdraw the proposal of the Constituent Assembly; to the armed forces, to serve the people, not the regime or the ruling party; to all politicians, to commit themselves with the population to overcome the crisis", (see Fides 13/07/2017).
Last Sunday, July 16, the population went to the polls for the referendum convened by opposition forces to express themselves on the proposal by President Nicolás Maduro to convene a constituent Assembly to amend the Constitution. The consultation, according to press release, collected 98% of the votes contrary out of 7 million. But it seems that this outcome has not been taken into account. Paramilitary groups attacked several seats in a general climate of tension, including that near the Church of the Virgin of Carmen where Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas was celebrating Mass, which was seized together with the faithful for some hours (see Fides 18/07/2017).
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, in a message of solidarity with Cardinal Urosa Savino said that this is a serious incident and he hopes for "a peaceful and democratic solution for the country", launcing an appeal to the authorities to "listen to the complaint of the people who ask for freedom, reconciliation, peace and material and spiritual well-being for everyone, especially for the poorest and most forgotten".
Yesterday, two people died and 360 people were arrested during the general strike demonstrations in the country, the first after nearly 15 years, which was successful. According to the latest news, the people demonstrations against President Maduro's decisions began three months ago and since then 97 people have died and 1,400 have been injured. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 21/07/2017)