VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis used his public address on Sunday to call for a peaceful and democratic solution to the unrest in Venezuela, which for months has been gripped by political instability and violence.
The Argentine pontiff asked worshippers gathered at the Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square to pray for Venezuela and said his thoughts were with those families whose children have been killed in the street protests.
“I call for an end to violence and for a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis,” the Pope told the faithful congregated for the Angelus prayer.
“May Our Lady of Coromoto intercede in Venezuela,” Francis added, referring to Catholic Patroness of the South American nation.
On June 8, Francis received members of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference at the Vatican in order to be updated on the situation in the country.
It is the second time the Pope has used the Angelus prayer to call for the restoration of peace in Venezuela, having done so previously on April 2.
Venezuela has for months been engulfed by violent anti-government protests.
President Nicolas Maduro has claimed that his opponents are trying to stage a coup d’etat, but protesters have denounced the government’s perceived abuse of power.