Pope Francis's 'reprehensible' failure on Venezuela

Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer, a liberal, has noticed something wimpy going on about Pope Francis and Venezuela:

Venezuela’s Conference of Bishops has released a bombshell statement demanding an immediate end of dictator Nicolás Maduro’s “illegitimate and failed government.” So why isn’t Pope Francis saying anything even close to that?

Venezuela's bishops put out a fiery statement blasting the brutal, illegitimate Maduro dictatorship, calling for its extinction. Oppenheimer then asks:

So what did the pope say after the bishops’ statement? Instead of echoing their demand that Maduro leave office, Pope Francis made an incredibly bland statement in his July 14 homily asking God to “inspire and illuminate both sides” so that they can “reach an agreement” to solve the Venezuelan crisis.

It's crap. Some things are so obvious they can be stated bluntly without controversy. Venezuela is one of them. Because it's a no-brainer that any regime that slaughters 7,000 of its own citizens through death squads and then starves the rest so badly that four million of them are forced to flee for their lives to absolutely any country that will take them, is not interested in reaching any 'agreement.'

Yet instead of doing the obvious thing in the name of sticking up for the poor he claims to champion, the pope says nothing, mouthing weird platitudes about a region he himself comes from and would presumably have the number on.

This represents a huge failing for him as a moral and religious leader. The entire civilized world is staring at Venezuela with loathing and revulsion as the facts come out - Oppeneheimer cites a devastating UN Human Rights Commission report, and here the pope is the lonely exception to the global unified front.

It's like he wants most of the country to starve and the surviving remainder to dump Catholicism and join some other faith because what he's doing amounts to driving desperate people from the Church.

Oppenheimer writes:

Why is the pope such a wimp when it comes to Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis? Until recently, one could have speculated that his failure to denounce Maduro’s crimes was because the Vatican hoped to play a helpful role as a mediator in the situation.

Ah, mediation, something the pope has tried with Maduro at least a couple of times. Oppenheimer then describes how bad this omission is:

Furthermore, Pope Francis’ July 14 statement about Venezuela was even more reprehensible because, in addition to the Venezuelan Conference of Bishops’ declaration, it came after a devastating report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Venezuela’s mass killings.

The U.N. report said that here have been at least 6.856 suspicious deaths of government opponents between January 2018 and May 2019, most of which were extra-judicial executions. As a native of Argentina, the pope should know well that this figure is bigger than any number of political killings in the region since the days of Argentina and Chile’s military dictatorships in the 1970s.

To put things in context, the number of political killings in the 17-month period cited by the U.N. report is far bigger than the total number of extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances caused by late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet during his 17-year regime.

More than twice the victims, actually.

What a wretchedly sorry thing to see the UN, and its High Commission for Human Rights, led by a socialist atheist, now the pope's moral better. At least UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet didn't shrink from saying there's a problem. And unlike him, she was something of a victim of the Pinochet regime in Chile.

But Pope Francis is the one speaking rubbish.

There have been lots of apologias for the pope's behavior. The Vatican has a tradition of keeping ties even during persecutions of Christians. The pope doesn't take sides. The pope doesn't play politics, blah blah blah. Here's one example of trying to explain out the pope's silence on a morally imperative matter he ought to be saying something pretty hard on.  

Oppenheimer presents the argument that the pope wants to keep fostering dialogue and comes up empty.

So let's throw out the likely real reason for this:

Oppenheimer doesn't say so, I'm going to argue it's the pope's associations with the Liberation Theology solons of Latin America, their German moneybag sponsors, and the hideous reality that these people are Marxists first and Christianity is just their convenient vehicle. It may just be a coincidence that the Colombian Marxist narcoterrorist group ELN, which was founded by a liberation theology priest, a rifle-and-cassock guy yelling Marxism in a collar, has suddenly made a resurgence in Venezuela, and is now threatening to destabilize Colombia. Is the pope aligned with that? It sounds so extreme to say so, but one has to wonder, given his cordial associations with Gustavo Gutierrez, the founding father of liberation theology. We all know which side he and his ELN buddies are on.

That certainly would explain the pope's wimp factor. One wonders if he's so conflicted based on his associations and legitimizations of the people Pope John Paul II denounced, it's eaten into his moral authority. Because right now, there's probably nothing eating into his moral authority quite like his silence on Venezuela. He claims to be all for migrants. for one, but he points his finger only at the West, never at the vile socialist dictatorship that's creating the most of them. It all raises questions on why he should be paid attention to on anything.

Image credit: Jack candlestick, via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

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