Caracas (Agenzia Fides) - At the conclusion of their 117th Ordinary Plenary Assembly, the Venezuelan bishops released a Message for the New Year 2022, presented yesterday by the newly elected President of the Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Jesús González de Zárate of Cumana. Also present at the presentation were the Secretary General of the Bishops' Conference, Bishop Raúl Biord, Bishop of La Guaira, and Bishop José Manuel Romero of El Tigre, in his capacity as President of the Bishops' Commission for Youth.
The bishops' message is divided into three thematic areas: the pandemic, the weakness of democracy and the path of the synod. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic that broke out two years ago and the emergence of new variants, the bishops underline the importance of vaccinations: "We join Pope Francis' appeal to remind us that vaccination is an act of love". They then renewed their gratitude and blessings to the health workers "who risk their lives every day to care for the many sick people".
"The pandemic has not only caused suffering, pain and death among the population, but has also aggravated the ills that have already afflicted Venezuelans in the past", the bishops said. In this context, they mention the dismantling of democratic institutions and state-owned companies, the forced emigration of millions of Venezuelans, especially young people, the high rate of poverty, child malnutrition and the unjust living conditions of the elderly. Add to this "the psychological, moral and spiritual damage that Venezuelans are experiencing in the drama we are witnessing" and the country's economic problems and an education crisis.
"We find ourselves as a country in a serious democratic and global crisis", they continue, "in which man and his dignity, especially the poor, are sidelined by the political regime to emphasize an exclusionary ideological system, where the meaning of democracy as the power of the people is lost", the bishops say, "when an ideology gains the upper hand as a system of power that violates human rights and denies the dignity of the person, it generates injustice and institutional violence". But they also emphasize: "despite of the negative signs in the country, we see that there are signs of light and hope in the midst of our people", which are expressed in particular in the help and solidarity with the sick and the poor.
The last part of the message is dedicated to the synodal journey: "As Church we live the experience of the common journey. One of the fundamental elements of this process is the promotion of listening", they emphasize, inviting everyone "to walk together as the people of God, inspired by the mission entrusted to us to make the gospel of Jesus Christ more tangible every day is an enriching testimony to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our history".
"It is time that we all work together to build a country where there are opportunities for all, so that those who have left have the opportunity to return and restore family and national unity", the bishops conclude. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 14/1/2022)