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Venezuelan bishops call for civil disobedience in constitutional crisis


  • Demonstrators help an injured man during clashes between security forces and protesters April 5 in San Cristobal, Venezuela. The nation's bishops have called for "peaceful civil disobedience" to restore constitutional order. (CNS photo/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez, Reuters)
  • A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister back at police during an April 5 protest in San Cristobal, Venezuela. The nation's bishops have called for "peaceful civil disobedience" to restore constitutional order. (CNS photo/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez, Reuters)

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CARACAS, Venezuela (CNS) -- In response to a renewed constitutional crisis in the country, the Venezuelan bishops' conference has called for "peaceful civil disobedience" to restore constitutional order.

"Venezuelans can't remain passive, be intimidated, or lose hope," the bishops wrote in an eight-point communique released March 31. "It's time to ask ourselves seriously and responsibly if civil disobedience, peaceful demonstrations, and fair complaints directed at national and international bodies are the valid and opportune path forward."

The statement followed a decision by Venezuela's Supreme Court March 29 to strip the country's opposition-controlled parliament of its powers. In two separate rulings, the court's constitutional chamber ruled that it would assume legislative duties.

The decision provoked sharp condemnation from around the world, with many calling it a coup and a lurch toward authoritarianism and dictatorship. Critics claim the court, responding to government orders, aimed to eliminate the country's only opposition-controlled branch of government. The court cited parliament's disregard for previous court rulings, arguing the assembly remained in "contempt."

The bishops' statement called the action "morally unacceptable" and "reprehensible." It also mentioned the move as a "precipice toward dictatorship."

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