The bishops of Venezuela said that “the regime has the obligation to attend to the needs of the population, and therefore to facilitate the entrance and distribution of humanitarian aid, avoiding any type of repressive violence”. They appealed to the government of Nicolás Maduro to distribute it to people in need. They said that the aid, which has been sent by different countries, is their response to  a “grave crisis”, and not politically motivated.

“The aid basically consists of emergency food supplies, supplements for malnourished children and the elderly, and medical supplies, mainly therapeutic,” the bishops’ conference said in its statement.

The bishops called on the National Armed Forces “to stand on the side of the people to which they belong”, noting that their members swore to uphold the Constitution and that “they serve the Venezuelan people first”.

Amazon Synod on the environment

The special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region, which will be held in October 2019, will discuss the theme ‘Amazonia: new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology’.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, said that although the synod is for the Amazon area, its reflection “relate to the whole Church and the future of the planet” and seek “to serve as a bridge to other similar geographical realities such as, for example, the Congo basin, the biological corridor of Central America, the tropical forests of Asia in the Pacific and the Guarani water system.”

Baldisseri said the preparatory document is divided into three parts, based on the ‘see, judge and act’ method used for the Synod on the Family.

Fasting, prayer, almsgiving

In his message for Lent, Pope Francis said: “Fasting, that is, learning to change our attitude towards others and all of creation, turning away from the temptation to ‘devour’ everything to satisfy our voracity and being ready to suffer for love, which can fill the emptiness of our hearts.

“Prayer, which teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego, and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and his mercy.

“Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us.

“And thus to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love Him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness.”

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)

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