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+++ Venezuela: Church promoting shared meals and accompaniment, amidst fake news, robberies and propaganda +++

The Church in Venezuela has taken two actions to counter the deep political and economic crisis facing the country: the “Olla solidaria” (solidarity pot), with the most destitute gathering to share a meal together, and the accompaniment of the people. Mgr. Diego Padrón Sanchez, Archbishop of Cumanà and President of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, says this in an interview with SIR news agency. During the “Olla solidaria” or “fraternal meals”, “everyone brings some food to share”, he explains. “This initiative is very successful as it creates deep feelings of reconciliation and solidarity, and is now extending throughout the country. It is a concrete way to overcome hunger, for many people have nothing to eat”. The other action is “the accompaniment of the people who are protesting against the political situation created by the government”; “they are encouraged to participate, but always in a peaceful and legal manner”. Their presence creates problems: last Wednesday, 12 April, during the Mass in the Cathedral presided over by Card. Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, to mark the Feast of Jesus the Nazarene, the celebration was interrupted by an organised group with “songs and slogans from beginning to end – the Archbishop reports -. Neither the authorities present nor the police intervened. Only at the end, they approached the Cardinal to greet him, but they could have prevented the interruption of the Mass. This was a lack of respect for religious freedom. Thank God, the Cardinal was not attacked personally, but this is a sign”. A photo was also posted on Twitter of a statue of the Nazarene in Valencia covered in droppings, but Mgr. Padrón says it is “fake news. What is real, by contrast, is a robbery: some thieves broke into and robbed the church. But Christ’s image was not touched; it did not suffer any damage. That was a piece of dirty propaganda”.

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