-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Pope Appeals for Peace in Venezuela
Calls for National Reconciliation and Sincere Dialogue Between Government and Opposition
VATICAN CITY, February 26, 2014 (Zenit.org) - At the conclusion of his weekly General Audience today, Pope Francis called for peace in Venezuela, saying he was following the events with "particular concern".
Tensions continue to rise in the South American nation as clashes between protesters and the government forces of President Nicolas Maduro. Opposition groups are protesting rising crime rates and economic hardships, blaming Maduro's inability to lead the country. Maduro, successor to the late Hugo Chavez, blames other countries, particularly the US, for funding a coup d'etat. So far, an estimated 13 people have died and over 150 wounded in clashes.
The Holy Father called for an end to violence, while inviting government and opposition leaders to come up with a peaceful solution for the people of Venezuela.
"I sincerely hope that the violence and hostilities cease as soon as possible and that the Venezuelan people, beginning with political and institutional responsibles, endeavor to promote national reconciliation, through mutual forgiveness and a sincere dialogue, respectful of truth and justice, capable of addressing concrete themes for the common good," he said.
Concluding his appeal, Pope Francis assured the Venezuelan people of his prayers, especially for those who have died and their families.
"I invite all believers," he said, "to elevate supplications to God, through the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto, so that the country can immediately find peace and harmony." (J.A.E.)
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