Pope Francis prayed Sunday for a peaceful end to Venezuela’s “grave crisis” which has left scores dead, as he wrapped up a tour to support peace in neighboring Colombia.
The Argentine pope, 80, spoke during a prayer service in Cartagena, one of Colombia’s top tourist draws but also one of its poorest cities, on the last day of his tour of the country.
“I assure all of you of my prayers for each of the countries of Latin America, and in a special way for neighboring Venezuela,” Francis said.
“I appeal for the rejection of all violence in political life and for a solution to the current grave crisis, which affects everyone, particularly the poorest and most disadvantaged of society.”
Venezuela’s crisis has caused food and medicine shortages and calls for President Nicolas Maduro to quit.
Clashes with security forces at anti-government protests left 125 people dead from April to July.
The Vatican tried to mediate in negotiations last year between Venezuela’s government and opposition.
The talks broke down with the sides accusing each other of bad faith.
Thousands of Venezuelans have fled to Colombia to escape the crisis.
“We could ask the pope to intervene directly for dialogue,” said Venezuelan housewife Nancy Pugliese, 35, who attended Francis’s visit in Cartagena.
“We need all the spiritual support we can get to free Venezuela… The pope should tell President Maduro directly to listen to the people.”
– Praying for the poor –
During his visit, he prayed for lasting peace in Colombia as it moves toward the end of a half-century civil war.
In Cartagena, he visited the impoverished district of San Francisco, where he blessed the foundations of a new homeless shelter.
“We have a lot of faith in Francis’s visit to this forgotten district,” said Willy Martinez, a 43-year-old bricklayer.
“Here, there are lots of people who only eat once a day. The worst thing is the corruption — that is worse than the bullets of the guerrillas or the paramilitaries.”
Culled from AFP