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Eminence, No More! A Plea to Cardinal Parolin to Change Course and Save Venezuela

Recently, Vatican secretary of state Pietro Cardinal Parolin defended the Vatican’s diplomacy, right after OnePeterFive published a piece on the course of that diplomacy in Colombia and Venezuela.

We must suppose that Cardinal Parolin has good intentions. For this reason, and because he is leading the pope in what I judge as a clearly wrong diplomatic path, I see myself forced to write this piece, in the hope of helping the Vatican secretary of the state rectify a course that seems wrong on many counts. I hope there is freedom in the Church, as there always has been, to criticize this course of action, which affects the contingent world of politics. I will try to anchor my criticism as much as possible in solid philosophical ground. This will help shed light in the darkness of the situation in my home country.

(When my people is dying of hunger, oppressed, and humiliated, and when the Vatican’s diplomacy of the last years has unwisely exacerbated my people’s misery, I deem myself obliged as a Venezuelan Catholic to say something.)

Cardinal Parolin said in an interview published by Vatican Insider on August 3, 2017 that the Holy See’s diplomacy is a diplomacy of  “peace,” without “power interests, political, economic, or ideological.” It is “proactive, not so much reactive.” Concerning Venezuela, he says, the important thing is to take into account “the conditions of the population and the common good, which must come before anything else.”

The latter statement reminds one of a speech by the apostolic nuncio in Caracas, Venezuela some years ago. As I reported in OnePeterFive on June 6, on April 11, 2014, nine days after the bishops had said that Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro was leading Venezuela to totalitarianism, the nuncio, Archbishop Aldo Giordano, stated that the government was seeking “the common good,” and for that reason, all the parties could come to an agreement. He also held that any form of force (even against a tyranny) is illegitimate and that dialogue is always a moral duty.

If one understands the nature of the movement that has taken hold of Venezuela, one cannot but be surprised by the naïveté. A totalitarian movement like communism does not strive for the common good. According to Hannah Arendt, totalitarianism establishes itself in the same way a foreign enemy would [1]. This is precisely the case in Venezuela – this is why this country has been systematically destroyed by Chávez and Maduro, as I showed in my previous piece of June 6. I could add that they have given away our territory – they have brought old enemies to control the country in the form of Cuban communists.

Arendt [2] shows that communism is intrinsically opposed to truth. In Marx’s own “Theses on Feuerbach,” he proposes to replace truth as “correspondence” (with the world) with any statement that helps change the world, bringing revolution. How can a Vatican diplomat, then, propose “negotiation” as the solution to a grave political crisis like the Venezuelan one in 2014 – or the current one? Does not Parolin know that totalitarians do not negotiate except when they feel weak and only in the hope of gaining time to become strong and suppress the opponent?

Isn’t this what we are contemplating in Venezuela? In the most shameless way, the government says it got more than 8 million votes for its Constitutional Assembly, when even voting machines firm Smartmatic has acknowledged that the number of voters was much lower. We were able to witness, through the videos of the defenseless but brave people, the absence of voters in many of the most important voting centers. Maduro and Diosdado and Cilia are Marxists and communists, all right!

Totalitarians do not respect truth. Totalitarians respect neither justice nor human dignity. Gustav Radbruch showed this concerning the Nazis in his famous piece “Laws that are not Right and Right above the Laws.” The German jurist perceived with all keenness that Hitler had no sense of truth; he just said what was rhetorically effective [3]. The same was true of Chávez and is now true of Maduro and Cabello. You just have to watch them say that 8 million voted for their Constituent Assembly. Radbruch also said Hitler had no sense of justice or equality, citing the example of the Potempa process, where it was said that not all homicides are the same. This is exactly the case with Chavism, again. In December 2002, a man named Gouveia killed, in front of the cameras, for all to see, three persons instantly, with two others dying later from their wounds. Chávez named Gouveia his “chevalier.” But if somebody who is not a higher-up communist touches a communist or the Cuban Embassy, that person can be certain of doom.

So Cardinal Parolin has forced the opposition to “negotiate” and go to “elections.” And he told the Venezuelan Catholics that any form of force is illegitimate and that dialogue is always a moral duty!

Now, I say, if the Vatican cannot get involved in overthrowing the totalitarian tyranny, shouldn’t it stay away and just strive to protect in the most effective way possible the rights of all persons, and especially of Christians?

Granted, there are situations in which the Vatican cannot make public statements because they would be imprudent. Despite this, the Vatican has normally striven to help the people in need. Pope Pius XII was unable to condemn the roundup of the Jews of Rome by the Nazis, but he was effective in saving more than 90% of them (see “Examining the Papacy of Pope Pius XII, Pave the Way,” p. 24, August 7, 2017). Pius XI had explicitly condemned Nazism, moreover, in the famous Encyclical Mit brennender Sorge. Benedict XVI and Card. Bertone prevented a frontal clash with Chávez, but when, on March 13, 2007, the student-leader Nixon Moreno was trying to find a diplomatic safe place to ask for asylum, his lawyers told him the Nunciature was the only safe spot – and then the nuncio, Giacinto Berloco, heroically defended this supplicant.

Thus, it seems that the current Vatican’s diplomacy has taken into account neither the common good nor the conditions of the population. The silence of Pope Francis and of Parolin’s Vatican concerning the violations of human rights and their blessing of Maduro and praising Marxism have been devastating for the prestige of this papacy among the people of Venezuela. Even the last statement issued by the secretary of state on August 5 is far too partisan in the eyes of any person who knows the situation, as surely Parolin must.

Parolin said, “[T]he Holy See asks from all political actor and particularly the government to guarantee the respect of human rights and of fundamental freedoms, and the Constitution in force.” To state that is profoundly unjust. By that date, August 4, nobody but the government had violated any human rights. To mention implicitly the opposition in this statement was just wrong.

Then the statement, once more, called for “the creation of conditions for a negotiated solution. … The Holy See finally calls urgently to avoid all sorts of violence.”

I do not wish to see future historians say a pope helped the totalitarian regime of Venezuela perform a genocide [4].

Regarding Colombia, the problems are almost as clear. The pope, led by Vatican diplomats, appears to have endorsed as fair an agreement between the Colombian government and FARC, through which that terrorist group will enter formal Colombian politics and elections.

Parolin has said in the same above-mentioned interview with Vatican Insider that, regarding Colombia, “there is a hope and we hope that this positive trend – with all the weaknesses and difficulties that there are – can be reinforced with Pope Francis’s visit. The pope wants to go to Colombia for one main motive: to promote reconciliation. I think that beyond the technical formulation of the peace agreement, what the country needs is a deep reconciliation in its inner being so as to start with solid foundations the path of peace.”

Besides that, the agreement was rejected by the people and contains the imposition of gender ideology. As was pointed out by OnePeterFive recently (see the link in the first paragraph of this story), FARC is a terrorist communist and narco-dealing group. Its love for truth and justice is as big as that of the Chavistas of Venezuela (with whom they are deeply involved) – that is to say, nonexistent. FARC’s leaders negotiate just because President Uribe almost entirely destroyed them, and they saw they had to change their tactics. But even after the agreement was signed, FARC has continued performing terrorist attacks.

The media are not broadcasting these attacks as they should, but one can find some trustworthy sources to document them. For example:

(1) Last June 17, three women died and other 31 persons were wounded by a bomb in a mall in Bogotá. The authorities were too quick to state that the perpetrators were not members of FARC. However, some well informed Colombians have good reason to think otherwise. Ricardo Puentes Melo thinks the main suspect was the first victim, Julie Huynh, who very probably was a member of that terrorist group and detonated the bomb by mistake at the wrong time [5].

(2) On February 6, a Colombian soldier died in Meta due to the explosion of a mine planted by FARC.

(3) On April 9, 2017, FARC exploded a road bomb in El Guaviare, killing a professional soldier and wounding another two, plus a sub-officer of the army.

(4) In Calmar, two auxiliaries and a patroller were wounded by another explosion caused by FARC on July 3, 2017. Three additional explosions have occurred in this urban zone.

Besides all this, I have Colombian friends who live in Cauca and tell me their families are still forced to pay FARC the “revolutionary tax.”

Obviously, FARC’s aim is to conquer through elections. While Chávez had to slowly build his paramilitary groups to terrorize his opponents and create the mirage of popularity for years to come (after 1999), FARC has an army at its disposal – the equivalent to Hitler’s Brownshirts but with much greater firepower. That is the nature of this totalitarian and drug-dealing movement.

Graver events have occurred. On August 5, the Council of State of Colombia ratified the validity of the referendum by which the peace agreements between FARC and the government, signed in Havana, were rejected. This means that the agreement is contrary to the Colombian constitution. The former attorney general, Alejandro Ordóñez, holds that the peace agreement is illegitimate and its implementation should stop immediately.

So how can the pope warrant such a peace agreement when FARC is already violating it and stamping on human rights? How, when FARC’s goals do not look good at all? How, if the agreement itself is illegitimate?

The pope had said in 2016 that he would visit Colombia when the peace agreement became impregnable through the referendum. (See the short video at the link where Pope Francis appears saying this.) But now that the referendum has been rejected, cardinal Rubén Salazar says the pope is coming to turn the peace impregnable. Is this right?

In the light of all this, one can legitimately ask Cardinal Parolin to rectify the course of Vatican diplomacy in Colombia and Venezuela. One can see in it no result other than the rise to power of totalitarian movements. Such diplomacy as Parolin champions is not promoting the common good, the good conditions of life of the Catholic people, or real peace.

[1] Concerning Arendt, see The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York, A Harvest Book-Harcourt, Inc., 1994), pp. 416-417. Ver, también, pp. 357-361, 392, 411-413.

[2] Concerning Arendt, see The Origins of Totalitarianism (ibid.), pp. 384-385, for example.

[3] “Leyes que no son Derecho y Derecho por encima de las leyes”, p. 12. En: G. Radbruch, E. Schmidt y H. Wenzel. Derecho injusto y derecho nulo (Introducción, traducción y selección de textos por José María Rodríguez Paniagua. Aguilar, Madrid, 1971), pp. 3-22.

[4] People are dying of hunger – every day, more people – due to the systematic destruction of the productive apparatus. Moreover, there have been massive sterilizations of women.

[5] She was a member of an NGO connected to FARC and working to prepare the “post-conflict.” She had been in Cuba on June 8 and at least until June 11. She had taken several other suspicious trips (like one to Vietnam). Juan Manuel Santos and the French government have refused to investigate her, even though, according the FBI, when you have an explosion like this, you must first investigate the victim who was closest to the bomb.

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