Bishop Jose Azuaje Ayala of El Vigia-San Carlos del Zulia, Venezuela, gestures during an interview with a Catholic News Service reporter in Washington April 22. The bishop said he remained hopeful that efforts to improve relations between the country's Catholic Church and the socialist government will continue under newly elected President Nicolas Maduro.
Catholic News Service
Venezuela’s Catholic bishops hopes efforts to improve relations between the country’s Catholic Church and the socialist government will continue under newly elected President Nicolas Maduro.
Meetings between the Venezuelan bishops and the government, including Maduro, began last May in an effort “to foster a climate of peace” and to “reflect the dignity and independence of each institution,” one of the bishops said.
The meetings began under former President Hugo Chavez, who since died of complications from cancer. Maduro, who was vice president when Chavez died, was among the government officials involved in the meetings. Maduro was Chavez’s hand-picked successor.
Maduro won a narrow victory -- 50.8 percent to 49 percent -- over Henrique Capriles in national elections. Post-election protests turned violent, asking that the results be reviewed. The violence led to eight deaths and more than 100 injuries.
Throughout much of Chavez’s 13 years as president, relations between the church and the government remained complicated if not downright rocky. Chavez later adopted a more conciliatory tone and the church accepted the olive branch.