Venezuela’s bishops have described a Supreme Court decision to eliminate the country’s National Assembly as “morally unacceptable”. Saying Venezuela’s Catholics cannot remain “passive, frightened, or hopeless”, they have called for peaceful protests and civil disobedience to the government of President Nicholas Maduro.
The abolition of the assembly, which opposition parties have dominated for over a year, has been viewed by many as a coup, with the Organisation of American States calling it the country’s “final blow to democracy”.
Although Venezuela is the world’s 11th-largest oil producer, misgovernment has left it plagued with chronic shortages of food, medicine, and other basic products, causing the Church to be increasingly outspoken against the Maduro regime.
Archbishop Diego Padron, head of Venezuela’s bishop’s conference, said the Church must respond “not only with words but with facts, because a religion that is only vertical, intimate, individualist and spiritualist, which doesn’t question the system and doesn’t commit the faithful in the transformation of society, would be a religion that is opiate of the people”.