Pope Francis has offered his prayers in St. Peter’s Square to the victims of violence in Venezuela, which is undergoing intense civilian protests, resulting in many dead and detained.

The Pope recognized that “there is no stop to the arrival of dramatic news” regarding the events in Venezuela as the protests may not cease anytime soon, as opposition leaders vowed not to leave the streets until there is either a change in government or free elections. Pope Francis prayed for human rights, the right of suffrage, and for the Venezuelan government and society to seek negotiated solutions to its deep crisis, which includes food shortages, a three-digit inflation, and violence often categorized as “out of measure,” as the capital, Caracas, is the city with the highest murder rate in the world.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square. Image credit: EFE/Giorgio Onorati.

The Pope calls for peace in Venezuela

Ongoing protests in Venezuela have resulted in 22 people dead from looting, political clashes, and government-sponsored repression in the form of paramilitary groups. The protests are attended by thousands, and tensions just keep rising as public institutions do not appear willing to yield to the requests made by the opposition and civil society, some of which include releasing political prisoners, free and transparent elections, and the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro.

On April 19, Venezuela saw one of the largest demonstrations in its history, where tens of thousands took the streets to protest against the Maduro regime. The next protest will occur on Labor Day next Monday, March 1. The demonstration will have two major focal points which will head to different state institutions, the National Electoral Council and the Supreme Court. The objective is to protest against the lack of constitutional elections, which have been postponed indefinitely by the regime, and the judicial coup that had Supreme Court justices try to dissolve the National Assembly, which was chosen through validated elections in December 2015.

Venezuela Protests
Protesters in Caracas. Image credit: EFE/Cristian Hernandez.

“We entrust to the Blessed Virgin Mary the intention of peace, reconciliation and democracy in that dear country,” Pope Francis stated in his Regina Coeli address.

Macedonia, Egypt, and Catholic Action

Pope Francis on his statement to those attending Sunday mass, referred to the events that are taking place in the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as nationalist protesters entered the parliament after an Albanian lawmaker was elected as speaker. Macedonia is also undergoing daily protests as the country stands in a state of deep political division between nationalists and social democrats.

He also talked about his recent visit to Egypt on Friday, where he called upon the Egypt Catholic community to cease any acts of extremism that have to do with violence, as he claims that “love” should be the only act of extremism of a Catholic. Francis asked God to “bless all the Egyptian people,” whether they are Muslim or Catholic.

Lastly, he called upon the elderly to not get “too comfortable in the armchair,” as they should act as “missionary disciples” and spread the word of the Lord.

Source: EWTN