Venezuelan cardinal: ‘we want a way out … , one that is peaceful and democratic, without the language of war’

VENEZUELAN Cardinal Baltazar Porras, speaking at a press conference at Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) headquarters in Spain, said that “real changes are always built from the bottom up” and cautioned about “raising our hopes about so many populisms that are doing so much damage to our continent.”

The archbishop of Merida and apostolic administrator of Caracas works closely with the ongoing campaign to to suppor the Church in the country.

Cardinal Porras

In Venezuela, 30 percent of children suffer from malnutrition, 60 percent of families search for food in the street every day; censorship has grown enormously, “85 percent of the media are confronted with restrictions and the free press is very much threatened,” said the cardinal, who added that the disappearances among young people are constant and that “repression is enormous.”

However, the Catholic Church in Venezuela “does not lose hope, creativity and constancy” and is completely dedicated to helping the people in this social, political, economic and humanitarian crisis, the prelate said; “the Church works creatively in order to serve others. In the most populous districts, the presence of the Church is impressive, involved in all these districts with a joy and a dedication that edifies me.”

The parishes in the dioceses of Venezuela have been transformed into social dining halls and medical dispensaries, the cardinal explained: ‘the people unite to find solutions to the common problems” and it is “the simple and humble people who give and give, just as in the Gospel, the little that they have.” According to the cardinal, the work of the priests, religious and laity who are helping others is incredible: “they do not only give food; it is to accompany, to give their time and dedication. The greatest lack now is that of affection.”

Regarding the future of his country, the archbishop of Merida added that “we want a way out of this situation that is peaceful and democratic, without the language of war. We all need each other. We must do something that goes beyond political beliefs and ideologies, creating deep consciences both for the present and the future.”

ACN is supporting priests, men and women religious, lay people, catechists, and seminarians to respond to the country’s crisis. In addition to helping in their support and formation, the organization is supporting a variety of humanitarian emergency projects such as supporting parish canteens, digging wells or purchasing electric generators, in addition to meeting other urgent needs.

—Raquel Martin