The Vatican has called on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to suspend its newly formed Constituent Assembly, urging it to respect the will of the people and the nation’s constitution.

A statement from the Secretariat of State said that the assembly, “rather than fostering reconciliation and peace, encourages a climate of tension and confrontation and mortgages the future”.

A day later Maduro called the Vatican statement “regrettable”.

He told Argentine radio that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, had succumbed to the “violence against the Bolivarian Revolution”. He said the “bureaucracy” of the Vatican was separate from Pope Francis.

Elections for seats on the assembly were held amid widespread protests and international outcry. Maduro’s push for the assembly, comprised mainly of his supporters and designed to rewrite the nation’s constitution, has led to violent demonstrations in which more than 100 people have died.

The Vatican’s statement echoed a declaration made by members of the presiding council of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference, who condemned the elections as “unconstitutional as well as unnecessary, inconvenient and damaging to the Venezuelan people”.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection