19 May 2016, The Tablet

Vatican Foreign Secretary cancels trip to Venezuela

Venezuela is currently in a state of emergency as the president tries to gain control of the country

Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, has cancelled a visit to Venezuela that was scheduled for late May, the Venezuelan Catholic Church reported yesterday.

"For reasons that are not dependent on the Holy See, Msgr Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, has been forced to cancel his planned trip to Venezuela on May 24-29", reported the Diocese of San Cristobal.

Gallagher was expected in San Cristobal on Friday 27 May for the episcopal ordination of Bishop Francisco Escalante as new nuncio in Congo, but his trip was cancelled amid a growing emergency in the country.

Venezuelans are protesting daily as their country flounders in a severe recession. Dire shortage of food, medicine and electricity in the nation with the world’s highest inflation rate is forcing people into ever more desperate measures.

Pope Francis is said to be following developments in Venezuela with particular interest. In early May, Catholic news site Crux reported that the Pope had sent a letter to President Nicolas Maduro urging him to work to solve the country’s problems.

Although Gallahger was not invited on a diplomatic mission, the number two of the Holy See, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, announced that the visit "could be the occasion for dialogue" with the government and the opposition.

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