Your Eminence: How do you see the life of this part of the Venezuelan Church entrusted to you, under the current political government?
From the point of view of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, one can have a general vision of the reality that we are living. We have a huge concern, because the conditions are less favorable for that existence and are growing day by day, which among other measures, makes many Venezuelans somewhat desperate. They look for how to find better shelters in other countries of our continent and much further. The great concern we have as a Church is to see how we can attend, minimally, to those who knock on our door and the communities we visit. Hyperinflation has led to people not being able to buy food, or to buy medicines. It is like we live in a bubble.
For the regime, the most important thing is to be in an election campaign, as if organized in normal conditions, trying to buy people through gifts; and, with a demand that we must go to vote and vote precisely for the candidate of the government; because if not, the next day, the gifts will be taken away that could have been given. Undoubtedly, it is a very serious situation that we no longer qualify as humanitarian aid, but rather as a humanitarian emergency; because there are many children’s lives, sick people, elderly, who are useless or simply die for lack of medicine or food. Almost all people have a relative in the orphanage. I have had to emigrate many times in deplorable conditions, looking for another horizon.
That is why we create a political position apart from the Church; because my great concern is to want to serve our people, because for the regime, it seems that this does not have any importance.
Apart from Prayer, what resources does your Archdiocese have to help the basic needs of its people?
Undoubtedly closeness is needed, and that closeness must be done, first of all, with that humanitarian sense and with that Christian sense that makes us, through prayers, cling to that necessary force. Where the love of God is manifested through the service and the Samaritan help to our brothers. Therefore, through various forms, with our own contacts, with our aid organizations, with Caritas de Venezuela, we try to help a little the very specific need that exists in the Diocese and in the Parishes.
That is why we appeal to the heart of the reader or viewer, to give us a hand, which is not for personal or institutional benefit, but to alleviate a bit the needs of our entire membership, of all our people.
The Canonization of Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the Archbishop Martyr of El Salvador for denouncing all the abuses committed with his people, especially with the most vulnerable.
What is needed to raise a prophetic voice that denounces all our pain, suffering and repression of this People of Venezuela, whose lament rises before the altar of the heavenly Father?
The Canonization of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, along with the of Paul VI, is an indication of how Pope Francis is very close to his Latin American roots. What is the pain of so many of our brothers, from the Rio Grande to Patagonia, for whom a more just and egalitarian society is required, for this purpose, the Church has always been in it with all our Episcopates and other associations linked to the Church.
Not only is there a permanent denunciation of the evils that afflict us, but we offer that help, that closeness, that wanting to give something to those who suffer in so many ways: materially, spiritually, in the lack of human rights that do not allow them to develop an activity.
That is why I appeal to all those brothers and sisters who live outside these realities and who have the possibilities to help, not only to express compassion for what the different peoples of our continent are suffering, but there must also be concrete gestures of help so that we can give a sense of hope, a sense of fraternity, which is what ultimately makes us grow in faith, hope, and authentic Christian charity.
How can the Church of the USA help the Archdiocese?
Undoubtedly, it takes a lot of resources so that our children, our youth, can go to school and do not faint due to lack of food. So that these children and young people can come on weekends to the catechism and not be inert, simply because they have not had anything to put in their mouths.
This help is also needed for adults, children and young people who suffer from any type of illness or accident, and who do not get the necessary supplies to be able to recover their health. God pay them for that concern. God pay them for that initiative. God pay them for that creativity and make us discover that the Samaritan and merciful hand that is born in our faith, through our following of Jesus, can be a balm for those who need it.
What message do you want to send to Venezuelans who are abroad?
Everyone who lives in the situation of exile, because they must have had to emigrate, not because anyone wants to, but because there are needs of different kinds. I ask you not to forget your roots, do not forget those that are left, not only your relatives and close beings, but so many more people who can help in so many ways. I ask you to think: in the first place, to be a voice of our people; and second, that they can develop, for themselves and for the communities where they are, that sense of charity of fraternal help, of merciful service, as Pope Francis asks of us.
May the Lord bless you and the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe covers us all with her mantle. And remember that it is from the simple, from the humble, is that we can do good to our brothers.