Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Venezuelan bishops oppose constitutional changes

Caracas, Oct. 23, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The Catholic bishops of Venezuela have staked out their clear opposition to a set of constitutional reforms proposed by President Hugo Chavez, saying that the proposal "violates the fundamental rights of the democratic system and of the person."

The people of Venezuela will vote on December 2 in a nationwide referendum to determine the fate of the constitutional reform, which would lower the voting age to 16 and eliminate term limits. The constitutional amendments would also help Chavez to consolidate political power-- a prospect that worries the Catholic hierarchy.

The proposed "reforms," the bishops note, would establish Venezuela as a socialist state. In stating their opposition to that move, the bishops said that constitution, as amended, would "limit the freedom of Venezuelans, add excessively to the power of the state, stop the process of decentralization, and put many aspects of civil life under the government's control."

A socialist state, the bishops add, would run the risk of the same experiences that other socialist societies have endured: a trend toward poverty, accompanied by more and more oppressive government and the gradual elimination of civil liberties.

Although the amendments proposed by Chavez and his supporters have been billed as a constitutional "reform," the Venezuelan bishops argue that the proposals call for "radical and profound changes" in the government, going far beyond reform of the existing law.

The proposed constitutional changes, the bishops conclude, are "morally unacceptable in the light of Church social doctrine."

You can read the document from The Venezuelan Episcopal Conference in Spanish here.

No comments: