ROME, JULY 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela, is denouncing the government's attempts to install a Marxist Socialist regime through "unconstitutional" and "illegal" methods violating the rights and will of the people.
Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino underlined the need to speak publicly, to voice "my conscience as a Venezuelan and as archbishop of Caracas, given the reality that we are experiencing."
He wrote a statement, issued Wednesday, denouncing "the danger that is threatening our beloved homeland."
"Going beyond the national constitution," the cardinal wrote, President Hugo Chávez "and his government want to lead the country on the path of Marxist Socialism, which monopolizes all spaces, is totalitarian, and leads to a dictatorship, not even of the proletariat, but of the leadership that governs."
"Going against the popular will, which on Dec. 2, 2007, rejected the proposal of nationalizing and the socialist reform of the national constitution, through unconstitutional laws, there is an attempt to implant in Venezuela a Marxist regime, as the president has openly proclaimed on repeated occasions," the prelate stated.
He asserted that "such conduct is unconstitutional and illegal but, above all, it attempts against the human, civil and political rights of Venezuelans."
"The failure of Marxist Socialism in other countries is more than evident," Cardinal Urosa noted.
He continued, "Moreover, the pretension to monopolize all productive activities through, for example, the progressive monopolization of importation, distribution and commercialization of foods, is in the line of dismantling the national productive apparatus so that we will all depend on the government even to eat."
Chávez has progressively nationalized many major national companies in various industries: oil, telephone, electric, steel, and cement. In addition, he has taken over supermarkets and large areas of farmland. This nationalization, along with government-issued price controls and other factors, has contributed to a rapid decrease in food production in the country. Thus Venezuela currently imports around two-thirds of its food needs.
The cardinal pointed out that this will not benefit "the Venezuelan producers, peasants and workers, but those of other countries."
"Together with the progressive indebtedness of the country," he added, it will lead "to the ruin of our economy as well as to a foreign dependence, totally contrary to the necessary food sovereignty."
"Concerned about installing a Marxist Socialist system, the government neglects its primary constitutional tasks: to protect the security of the people hit especially in the poorest sectors by violence and delinquency; to promote better care in the field of health, to build and maintain the infrastructure of highways and means of transport," among other things, Cardinal Urosa stated.
The prelate, who wrote the statement while on a scheduled trip to Rome for various meetings, published these words after Chávez leveled attacks against the cardinal himself and the entire Venezuelan episcopate.
During a national assembly on Monday, the day his nation celebrates its independence, the Venezuelan president called the archbishop of Caracas a "troglodyte" for trying to "scare people about communism."
"This gentleman is unworthy of calling himself cardinal," Chávez said, and asked the papal nuncio to Argentina, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, to tell Benedict XVI to send a replacement.
Cardinal Urosa said in response, "The president does not have license to insult, defame or abuse any Venezuelan."
"He has attacked me verbally on several occasions, exposing me unjustly to public ridicule," the prelate stated. "I totally reject these aggressions, which are unbecoming to the one who does them."
"The appointment of all the bishops of Venezuela and of the world is in the hands of the Church," he emphasized, "not in the hands of politicians."
The cardinal affirmed that all the bishops are builders of peace, and thus "without pretending to assume quotas of power or becoming political operators, we claim our right to pronounce ourselves on everything that has to do with the life and future of the Venezuelan people."
"We want the good, coexistence and progress of Venezuela," he affirmed, "with opportunities for all, without exclusions or injustices or intolerance, with longings for unity, well-being, progress and peace."
Cardinal Urosa encouraged "all men and women of good will to work ceaselessly and fearlessly, in the framework of the national constitution, so that fraternity and solidarity, liberty, justice and peace will reign in Venezuela."
He affirmed, "We Venezuelan bishops are solidly united in the task of serving the people as witnesses and ambassadors of Jesus Christ, and pastors of the People of God in Venezuela."
Several Church entities have expressed support and solidarity for Cardinal Urosa.
The semi-official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, stated its Thursday edition, "The Catholic Church in Venezuela firmly rejects the indescribable verbal aggression of which the cardinal archbishop of Caracas has been the object."
It added that the president took "advantage of the celebrations of the bicentenary of national independence," to pour "gasoline on the fire of Church-state relations."
The secretary-general of the Venezuelan episcopal conference, Auxiliary Bishop Jesús González de Zárate Salas of Caracas, also publicly rejected the accusations.
The council of priests of the Archdiocese of Caracas issued a communiqué, in which it stated that, "as a Venezuelan citizen, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino has the full right and duty to opine and contribute to the common good."
It added, "As archbishop of Caracas he has the full right, more than that, he has the sacred duty to guide Catholics on religious and moral principles and values that are at stake in the present social and political situation of our country."
Manuel Arcaya, president of the National Council of the Laity of Venezuela, said in a communiqué Wednesday, on behalf of the laypeople, movements and diocesan councils, "We categorically reject the adjectives and insults" brought against the cardinal.
Arcaya said he shares "with His Eminence the very grave concern that the country is being led to a Cuban style Communism."
"The objective of the government's campaign of despair is to generate sadness and passivity, sentiments that are foreign to our faith," he said.
This electoral year, Arcaya affirmed, "is an opportunity for us to be involved in the problems that afflict the country and to revise the basic proposals that the candidates of the various political parties offer us because our active and conscious participation will have consequences in the immediate future."
ZE10070910 - 2010-07-09