The Catholic Church and the Venezuela Crisis, 20 Years On

Venezuelan Episcopal Conference @Rodrigo Romero

I was asked by the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, at Georgetown University to write a blog piece about the Catholic Church in the Venezuelan crisis. In it I give some background on religious institutions and conflict more broadly, and then look at the current crisis. The upshot is that given how discredited all Venezuelan institutions are–including opposition parties and leaders, and the entire Maduro government–the situation is ripe for the Church to play a larger role in seeking a solution to the crisis.

Here are the final two paragraphs:

During the Venezuela crisis the Church so far has had an important but not a decisive role. This could change. In the current circumstances, the Church has the highest approval of any institution in Venezuela—the most recent polling shows it has an approval rating of 57 percent, more than 20 points higher than its closest competitor (the opposition-led National Assembly). This includes half of all those identifying with Chavismo. And the Pope is popular as well. The Church is perhaps in a better position than any other institution in Venezuela to play a role in a transition back to democracy.

One of the most important impediments for such a transition is the fear officials have that if they let go, they will be the objects of retribution and reprisals. The Church’s traditional focus on basic human dignity makes it one of the actors that could play an important role in finding a solution that could guarantee fair treatment and promote reconciliation.