Venezuelan "Bolivian" President Nicolas Maduro at his first audience with Pope Francis in 2013. Maduro gave the pope a picture of the Venezuelan nationalist Simon Bolivar.
(Rome) Yesterday evening, the "Bolivian" President of Venezuela was received in audience in a surprising way by Pope Francis. The Venezuelan opposition accuses the Pope of having received the "oppressor instead of the oppressed."
Nicolas Maduro took over the presidency in 2013 after the death of his predecessor and party boss, Hugo Chavez. Maduro and Chavez belong, by self-definition, to an "anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, internationalist, chavist, socialist" Bolivarian revolutionary movement. In 2007 they founded the Venezuelan Socialist Unity Party (PSUV), whose president is Maduro today.
In the past few days, Venezuela's head of state has been touring several countries. He visited Azerbaijan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, where he was received in Riyadh by King Salman ibn Abd al-Aziz. Venezuela has the largest oil deposits in the world and yet the population lives in bitter poverty.
Maduro's parents, his Venezuelan father was Jewish, the Colombian mother Catholic, were already active in the Venezuelan left-wing movement. Nicolas Maduro was baptized and educated Catholic. For a time-long Maduro was the supporter of the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba, who died in 2011. He describes himself as a Christian.
The Vatican Press Office published the following statement yesterday evening:
"The meeting took place against the backdrop of the worrying situation of the political, social and economic crisis that has permeated the country and which has a strong impact on the daily life of the entire population. In this way, the Pope, who is concerned with the well-being of all the Venezuelans, would continue to offer his contribution to the country's institutionality and to every step that would help solve the open questions and create greater trust between the various sides. He has implores the courage to take the path of honest and constructive dialogue in order to alleviate the suffering of the people, especially the poor, and to foster a climate of renewed social cohesion, which allows us to hope with the hope of the future Nation. "
Maduro and the Vatican "disinformation"
In Venezuela, regime critics have claimed that Maduro was trying to stay abroad as long as possible in order not to face the dramatic problems in the country and the opposition.
Maduro was received by the Saudi king Salman ibn Abd al-Aziz before his surprising stopover in Rome.
On Saturday, when Maduro had already traveled abroad, Pope Francis sent the Apostolic Nuncio for Argentina, Monsignor Emil Paul Tscherrig, to Venezuela to mediate between the government and the opposition. The opposition calls the government a "dictatorship".
Criticism is also loud at the Vatican. The former Allende Minister, Luis Badilla, who heads the semi-official Vatican press service, Il Sismografo, is said to have ideological sympathies for the Latin American leftist movements and leftist governments. Badilla described the Maduro visit as a "bold gesture" to "meet Pope Francis and talk about the drama of his country."
"Quasi incognito," said Madilla, he arrived in Santa Marta yesterday afternoon, where "he spent a long time talking to the Holy Father and some of his closest collaborators about the dramatic situation in his country." The country is at the "edge of the abyss", according to Badilla. There should be "neither victors nor vanquished", says the former Allende collaborator.
According to circles close to the maduro-critical Archbishop of Caracas, Pope Francis, wants to prevent the foreseeable overthrow of the "Bolivarian" rulers. In Venezuela, the fear is currently being raised that the "Bolivarists" would not accept the now inevitable end of their rule nonviolently.
In any case, Badilla had succeeded in distorting the events by "disinformation" so that the papal reception for the "oppressor" appeared as a "courageous step." The fact is that the "Francis has received the oppressor, but never the oppressed," already twice in audience.
On 9 October, Pope Francis had announced the appointment of a second Venezuelan as a cardinal. On 19 November, Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, the Archbishop of Merida, was elevated to the rank of Cardinal by the Pope. Observers also see in it a papal attempt to support the "Bolivarian" national front. Cardinal Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas and Primate of Venezuela, is the only cardinal in the country, who is known for his critical attitude towards the socialist regime.
Cardinal Urosa Savino had opposed the papal plans for a softening of the marriage Sacrament in the bishop's synod in 2015. The cardinalisation of Archbishop Porras Cardozo has served toward the neutralization of Cardinal Urosa Savino, while the government has received a high-ranking Catholic contact. Critics say that, in support of the Socialist Unity Party PSUV, Pope Francis even seemed to accept the division of the Venezuelan Church in a favorable way.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: vatican.va/SPA (Screenshots)
Trans: Tancred Vekron99@hotmail.com