The Vatican has defended its decision to send a papal representative to the inauguration of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, saying that the Holy See keeps its diplomatic relations with the Venezuelan state for the sake of the common good.
The interim director of the Vatican Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, released a statement Monday in response to questions of journalists as to why the pope would send his representative to the ceremony after the nation’s bishops declared the regime to be “illegitimate.”
“The Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with the Venezuelan state,” Mr. Gisotti said. “Its diplomatic activity aims to promote the common good, to safeguard peace, and to ensure respect for human dignity.”
“For this reason,” the spokesman continued, “the Holy See decided to be represented in the inauguration ceremony of the Presidency by the interim chargé d’affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature of Caracas.”
Responding to the implicit question regarding a possible divide between the Venezuelan bishops and the pope, Gisotti said that “the Holy See and the bishops of the country continue to work together to help the Venezuelan people, who suffer the humanitarian and social implications of the grave situation in which the nation finds itself.”
As Breitbart News reported, the pope sent Polish Monsignor George Koovakod to attend Maduro’s inauguration ceremony despite the boycott by many countries — including the U.S. and most nations from Latin America and Europe. At the outset of his acceptance speech, the Venezuelan dictator thanked the prelate for his “courageous” presence at the event.
Last Wednesday, the Venezuelan bishops released a sharp statement of rebuke, decrying Maduro’s new term in office as “illegitimate” and warning that it initiates an era of arbitrary rule in the beleaguered nation.
“We are faced with arbitrary rule, without respect for the guarantees laid down in the Constitution or the highest principles of the dignity of the people,” the bishops said.
As a result, “the claim to be initiating a new presidential term of office on 10 January 2019 is illegitimate in its origin and opens the door to the non-recognition of the government, since it lacks democratic support in justice and law,” they said.
The bishops declared that in the present crisis, “the National Assembly, elected by the free and democratic vote of the Venezuelan people, is currently the sole organ of public authority with the legitimacy to exercise its powers with sovereignty.”
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