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BATTLING BISHOPS: Venezuelan Church SLAMS Socialist Government For Country’s Woes

Venezuelan bishops blamed their totalitarian government for the country’s economic and political woes Monday, and called for a new spirit of entrepreneurship.

“This system is totalitarian and centralist, it establishes control of the state over all aspects of the lives of the citizens and public and private institutions,” the unusually strident statement from the bishops reads. “It also threatens freedom and the rights of persons and associations, and has led to oppression and ruin in every country where it has been tried.

The bishops said scarce food, a lack of basic necessities, and constantly rising food prices are the direct result of the government’s decision to “impose a political-economic system of a socialist, Marxist or communist nature,” reports Catholic news outlet Aleteia.

Venezuela has been in a deep recession for much of this year, and inflation is above 60 percent. Falling oil prices are straining the country further, and Moody’s Investors Service lowered its credit rating to one step above default this week. The past year was also marked by political and social unrest.

The  Venezuelan Episcopal Conference urged the government to release political prisoners and stop using the judicial system to intimidate political opponents, and said it must respect freedom of expression and a free press. A healthy private sector is crucial to economic success, they added, and the country needs “a new entrepreneurial spirit with audacity and creativity.”

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