Francis prays for victims of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela

Vatican City, Apr 30, 2017 / 05:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his Regina Coeli address on Sunday, Pope Francis called attention to the violence in Venezuela, offering up his prayers for the victims and appealing to the government and citizens to seek solutions to the crisis.

“There is no stop to the arrival of dramatic news about the situation in Venezuela and the aggravation of the clashes with many dead, wounded and detained,” he said April 30.

“As I unite myself to the pain of the families of the victims, for which I ensure prayers for suffrage, I appeal to the Government and all the members of Venezuelan society to avoid any further form of violence, to respect human rights and to seek negotiated solutions to the serious humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis that is exhausting the population.”

Month-long anti-government demonstrations, political clashes and looting in Venezuela have left at least 22 people dead, the Guardian reports.

Tens of thousands of people have joined the latest protests, caused largely by food and medicine shortages, increasing unemployment and anger at President Nicolás Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian restrictions on elections and democratic institutions.

“We entrust to the Blessed Virgin Mary the intention of peace, reconciliation and democracy in that dear country,” Francis continued. “And pray for all the countries that are experiencing serious difficulties, especially in these days I think of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.”

During his address to some 70,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope drew attention to the celebration Sunday of the Day for the Catholic University of the Sacred Hear in Italy and “Biblical Sunday” in Poland, where parishes, schools and mass media are all publicly reading a part of Sacred Scripture.

“Christian formation is based on the Word of God,” he said, “I wish every good for this initiative.”

He also spoke about Leopoldina Naudet, founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family, who was beatified in Verona April 29. “She grew up in the court of the Habsburgs, first in Florence and then in Vienna, having as a girl a strong vocation for prayer, but also for educational service,” he said.

“She consecrated himself to God and, through various experiences, came to form a new religious community in Verona, under the protection of the Holy Family, still living in the Church today.”

Francis also expressed his thanksgiving to the Blessed Virgin Mary for his apostolic visit to Egypt April 28-29, asking the Lord to “bless all the Egyptian people,” including the Christian and Muslim authorities, and the Christians in the country.

Immediately before leading the Regina Coeli Sunday, Pope Francis held an audience in St. Peter’s Square with members of the lay organization Catholic Action. He also greeted them during the Regina Coeli address urging them to “go forth!” into the world.

The group, committed to living out faith in community and service, met in Rome last week to celebrate the 150th year since their founding.

In their audience, the Pope said that his own father and grandmother were members of Catholic Action, encouraged them to not grow lazy or complacent in the future, getting too “comfortable in the armchair.”

“I encourage you to continue to be a people of missionary disciples who are living and witnessing the joy of knowing that the Lord loves us from infinite love, and who together with him deeply love the story we live in,” he said.

“So we were taught by the great witnesses of holiness that paved the way for your association,” including Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. “Catholic Action, live up to your history! Live to the height of these women and these men who preceded you.”

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