Pope Francis wants to visit Venezuela

IN A VIDEO MESSAGE ADDRESSED TO THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE marking the April 30 beatification of medical doctor José Gregorio Hernandez, the Pope twice expressed his desire to visit the country. In his homily during the celebration, the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Aldo Giordano confirmed that “Pope Francis … has confided to us that he has a great desire to visit the country.”

The Pontiff said: “I pray to God for reconciliation and peace among Venezuelans. I would love to come and visit you.” And after praying that “the people of this beautiful land may always find opportunities for human development,” he once again expressed his desire to visit Venezuela “to at least indicate my closeness on this path.”

In the midst of the suffering the world is going through as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jose Gregorio, the Venezuelan “people’s doctor,” one of the most beloved figures in this country, emerges as an intercessor and a symbol of hope. “The beatification of Doctor José Gregorio is taking place at a particular and difficult time for you. Like my brother bishops, I know well the situation you are undergoing and I am conscious that your prolonged suffering and anguish have been further aggravated by the terrible COVID-19 pandemic,” Pope Francis stated in the recorded message.

Mass in Caracas, Venezuela

The Pope said the beatification “is a special blessing of God for Venezuela and invites us to conversion towards greater solidarity with one another, so that everyone together may find the response that is so greatly needed for the common good, in order that the country may revive and be reborn, following the pandemic, in a spirit of reconciliation.”

During the ceremony Archbishop Giordano emphasized that “in the figure of José Gregorio Hernández the Church renders homage of honor, gratitude and prayer to the medical and healthcare professionals of today;” he prayed “that Blessed José Gregorio may intercede, so that access to vaccines may be successfully achieved, together, without division or resistance.”

The apostolic nuncio said that “it seems providential to be celebrating the beatification of a doctor in the midst of a pandemic that is affecting the whole of humanity,” a situation that demands so many prayers “for the millions of victims and for all who have fallen sick as a result of the virus.” Venezuela is suffering particularly severely from the pandemic, as the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference announced in mid-April.

During the celebration, the reliquary of the “people’s doctor” was raised up in front of the altar by Yaxury Solórzano, the young girl who “had little hope of survival” after being shot in the head in 2017 at the age 10. She was miraculously healed by the intercession of Doctor José Gregorio. This miracle was approved in 2020 by the medical committee of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints and by the Vatican’s Theological Commission. Pope Francis approved the beatification in the same year.

—Ximena Rondon & Maria Lozano