Retired Bishop Eduardo Herrera Riera of Carora, who is suffering from terminal cancer, called on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to repent of his “injustices” against the country.
“As a Head of State, you have the most gravest of obligations, first and foremost, to procure the peace and security of Venezuelans,” the bishop said in an open letter April 9. “Unfortunately, you have been very weak and negligent in confronting this most serious of problems.”
The controversial president has battled illness himself in recent years, traveling last month to Cuba in order to have a potentially cancerous tumor removed.
Bishop Herrera listed several ethical concerns as well as human rights complaints against the Venezuelan leader and urged him to repair damage caused if he wants to share in “eternal happiness in the Kingdom of our Lord and God.”
Below is the full text of the bishops' letter:
To Mr. Hugo Chavez Frias, President of the Republic.
I write you as the elderly 84-year-old bishop emeritus of Carona, suffering from the serious side-effects of powerful chemotherapy and radiation, which has left me extremely weak because of my weight loss of more than 35 pounds.
I am a walking skeleton unable to move on my own, and I must use a wheelchair constantly. All of this makes me certain that my death draws near and should make you understand the sincerity and healthy desire that move me to speak to you as clearly as possible…
There is a phrase Jesus uses in the Gospel, which, by the way, Cardinal Urosa just mentioned on television, which says: “Not everyone who says Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Heavenly Father.” You have displayed various acts of faith and trust in God, calling him “My sweet God,” hugging and kissing crucifixes, visiting the Shrine of Santo Cristo de la Grita and many other similar things.
If this is all sincere, it is very praiseworthy and I applaud you for it. However, unfortunately this is not enough to receive God’s forgiveness and enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Repairing the evil and the injustices that have been done to people and to institutions is also strictly necessary, and in your pride you have committed such acts on innumerable occasions. Sacred Scripture calls pride “the great sin,” and that is what led the most beautiful and powerful Archangel Lucifer to rebel and to want to emulate the power of God, rising up against Him, together with a group of angels who followed him in his mad endeavor. But God sent the powerful Archangel Michael against them, who fought them, overcame them and sent them to the terrible and eternal sufferings of hell. Since then, Lucifer, known today as Satan and who did not lose his gifts of intelligence and power, has worked non-stop to bring all human beings who despise the infinite love and mercy of God our Father into his realm.
As I said, Mr. President, you have committed numerous and very grave injustices. Just to remind you of a few of the most emblematic cases: The unjust imprisonment of Maria de Lourdes Afiuni and of three police chiefs. In the same way, innumerable other cases have caused great suffering to individuals and their families.
All of this can and should be repaired by your order, which I am sure would be obeyed immediately upon opening the prison doors of all political prisoners, as well as the doors of the country to those in exile who have been forced to leave their country and flee the almost certain reprisals that you would carry out against them.
Another very grave sin you have committed, Mr. President, are the expropriations or thefts, as you were clearly told by Maria Corina Machado. Carried away in your very own pride, like thunderous Jupiter you said, “Expropriate, Expropriate,” without considering the laws that oversee this matter, that is, without an evaluation beforehand, an agreement with the person or persons in question and a just payment for the goods expropriated.
If you want God’s forgiveness, you should make reparation at once and pay the hundreds of that have been affected, whether they are individuals or institutions.
Moreover, there is another evil, Mr. President, which you have brought upon the country: Your inexplicable preaching of hatred and violence that has brought to all the cities of our country a painful river of blood that flows daily through our streets.
As a Head of State, you have the most gravest of obligations, first and foremost, to procure the peace and security of Venezuelans, beginning with all those who illegally bear arms, and to attack firmly and decisively all violent groups, after a serious study carried out by the many competent experts on this question in our country.
Unfortunately, you have been very weak and negligent in confronting this most serious of problems. If you don’t step up to solve this terrible evil with decisiveness and courage, God will hold you accountable for your negligence.
Mr. President, there may be other sins I should bring to your attention, but I don’t want to conclude without making you see your fault in your inexplicable negligence in decisively confronting the horrific corruption that is plaguing Venezuela, so much so that many believe you are an accomplice in these matters.
This has resulted in the corruption of the majority of our judges who issue unjust rulings and the decisions taken by the most powerful officials of the State, whom you manipulate according to your own pleasure, without any control or respect for the Constitution and our laws. God will hold you accountable for all of this, if you do not immediately correct these grave faults.
I am sending you this long letter publicly because I want your followers to read it as well. They too, if they wish to save their souls, have the gravest of obligations to ask for God’s forgiveness with the greatest sincerity of heart and to make reparation for all of the abuses and injustices that have been committed.
As you can see, my esteemed President, I have addressed you, perhaps very coarsely, but with the holiest and best of all wishes that some day we may meet each other to enjoy eternal happiness in the Kingdom of our God and Lord.
Eduardo Herrera Riera
Bishop Emeritus of Carora
“As I live – oracle of the Lord GOD – I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” Ez 33:11