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Constituent Assembly will 'mortgage' Venezuela's future, Vatican says


  • A demonstrator is detained July 27 during a strike called to protest Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas. (CNS photo/Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters)
  • A demonstrator wears a rosary while holding chunks of concrete in Caracas, Venezuela, after clashes broke out July 30 during an election for a constituent assembly. (CNS photo/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters)
  • A demonstrator is detained July 27 during a strike called to protest Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas. (CNS photo/Marco Bello, Reuters)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a strongly worded statement, the Vatican called on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to respect the will of the people and respect the nation's current constitution.

The Vatican urged Maduro "to suspend ongoing initiatives such as the new Constituent Assembly, which, rather than fostering reconciliation and peace, encourages a climate of tension and confrontation and mortgages the future," said a statement released Aug. 4 by the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Elections for seats on the assembly were held around the country July 30 amid massive 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."

"It will be a biased and skewed instrument that will not resolve but rather aggravate the acute problems of the high cost of living and the lack of food and medicine that the people suffer and will worsen the political crisis we currently suffer," the bishops said July 27.

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