I don’t know how many of you have been following the very long political odyssey in Venezuela that has caused indescribable anguish as the citizens seek food staples, medicine and so many other necessities of life, that have been in short supply – in some cases, non-existence – for years now! The bishops have issued a plea, a call to Venezuela’s president and other political leaders to remedy the situation, stating how alarmed they are “to see how the evils pointed out in our Pastoral Exhortation of January of this year have worsened.”

I have friends in Venezuela, and what the bishops write is in no way an exaggeration of the current situation, according to my friends.

Another troubling situation, yet very different as it concerns a life and death matter for an English toddler. I’m sure you’ve seen a headline or two about little Alfie Evans whose respirator, the one keeping him alive in the face of a yet to be fully understood illness, was to be removed yesterday by a court order. Rome’s Bambino Gesu Children’s hospital is trying to bring Alfie to Rome: you can follow this other odyssey in the third story I posted below.


Pope Francis spent yesterday and is spending today in meetings with the C9, the body of nine cardinal advisors to the Pope as they gather in their 23rd session.

However, there was a brief break yesterday for the Holy Father. Not only did he offer 3000 servings of Italy’s celebrated gelato to the homeless and needy to mark his onomastico or name day on Monday (feast of St. George – Jorge), Pope Francis actually marked this day by spending time with the needy and homeless of Rome, according to a brief note from the Office of Papal Charities.


In an urgent appeal, the bishops of Venezuela ask government leaders to address the grave humanitarian concerns afflicting the nation and they describe the President’s current bid for re-election as illegitimate at this time.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

The bishops of Venezuela have released a strongly-worded statement in which they list a series of grave problems afflicting the people and express their concern for the “surprising indifference of government officials” in the face of these problems.

They also make an urgent appeal to President Nicolas Maduro to reconsider his re-election bid and focus on tackling grave humanitarian concerns afflicting the people.

“As pastors driven by the love of Christ and as citizens of Venezuela” the bishops say at the beginning of a statement which was released on Monday, “we turn to Catholics and to all men and women of good will to share our concerns.”

“We are alarmed to see how the evils pointed out in our Pastoral Exhortation of January of this year have worsened: Hyperinflation has increased the general impoverishment of the population, with the decomposition of the quality of life of all. The general lack of electricity, water and gas services throughout the country makes life more and more difficult,” the statement says.

All this, the bishops point out, in the face of the surprising indifference of government officials who are charged with solving these problems.

They state that the very plans put into place by President Maduro to assuage food scarcity are not working, and “it all translates into more hunger and unemployment.”

Added to this, they say, is “the increase in unhealthiness due to the uncontrollable appearance of epidemics and diseases in the most vulnerable populations, with the aggravating factor of the lack of medicines for treatment. This problem is generating a large number of protests throughout the country, which, although silenced by the media, are increasing.”

The bishops highlight the fact that more and more Venezuelans, from all levels of society, are emigrating “in increasingly precarious conditions.” They point out that this breaks family ties, brings desolation and abandonment of the elderly and children.

They also express gratitude to the countries that have welcomed and received Venezuelans who have been forced to leave and to Church organizations for the assistance offered to migrants.

“Faced with humanitarian problems of such magnitude, the statement says, the Presidential elections, called for May 20, lack legitimacy.”

The bishops elaborate on this concept saying “the electoral campaign has not been conceived with guarantees to ensure a free, reliable and transparent electoral process.”

They point out that far from providing a solution to the crisis, an electoral campaign could aggravate the crisis and trigger an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.

“It is therefore urgent to postpone (the vote) to the last trimester of the year.” they say.

The bishops reiterate their urgent appeal to the rulers and leaders of the nation to take responsibility for the many issues and to listen to the people and engage with them without further delay. They suggest the help of private sectors and even of sister countries could be solicited in the attempt to control hyperinflation and to facilitate the search for political solutions.

“All Venezuelans must be aware that at stake at this time is not only an electoral event or even the transitory deterioration of the quality of life of a people, but its very existence as a free, fraternal and democratic nation.”

The bishops of Venezuela conclude their appeal calling for a change in direction in order to “take a different course from this saga of death”, through “the strength of faith and the power of hope” urging “those who believe in the living and Risen Christ to be courageous and to take responsibility in the knowledge that the last word does not belong to loneliness, suffering or hopelessness, but to God.”


(ANSA) – Rome, April 24 – A tug-of-war continued Tuesday between Britain and Italy over Alfie Evans, a terminally ill British toddler who has been made an Italian citizen in a bid to beat British court orders to let him die.

As Alfie survived being taken off life support and his parents practised mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, negotiations continued on bringing the child to Rome but the UK insisted it had jurisdiction, well-informed sources said.

Amid the new developments, British High Court appeals judge Anthony Hayden, who signed the ruling pulling the plug on Alfie, set a fresh hearing for this afternoon. The hearing has been called in Manchester at 15:30 local time (16:30 Italian time), his spokesman said. Lawyers from all parties including the family and Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital have been summoned, sources said.

Italy said it was ready to fly in a respirator for Alfie in a bid to beat court orders to pull the plug, according to Rome’s Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Hospital chief Mariella Enoc. The hospital said: “Alfie now has a respirator. The Bambino Gesù team is ready to leave on a plane provided by (Defence) Minister (Roberta) Pinotti.”

“I spoke a short while ago with Thomas, Alfie’s father. At this time Alfie has an oxygen mask but we need to transport him”. She added “a short time ago I spoke with Ambassador (Raffaele) Trombetta to whom I said that our team has been alerted and is ready to leave in a few minutes”.

Contacts between Italian representatives and British political, health and judicial authorities have been continuing since last night (Monday April 23) but for now the UK authorities say the child’s British citizenship must take precedence over his newly granted Italian one in deciding jurisdiction, Italian sources said Tuesday.

Vatican diplomacy is at work to get Alfie to Italy for treatment, sources said Tuesday.

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