During the 164th pilgrimage on the day of the ‘Divina Pastora’ (Divine Shepherdess), the Venezuelan bishop spoke out about the country’s situation.
Despair and disappointment, but also hope and faith were at the core of the homily of Mgr Victor Hugo Basabe, Venezuelan Bishop of the Diocese of San Felipe and Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Barquisimeto. The address left no one indifferent, carrying a message of encouragement and strength to the Venezuelan people on the occasion of the pilgrimage on the day of the Divina Pastora, one of the county’s most beloved devotions, on 14 January.
In his homily, Bishop Basabe compared the persecution of the people of Bethulia in Israel, as described in the reading of the day, to the country’s current situation. Venezuela too, he said, is “a besieged people, a people that someone wants to debase, and deny it the basics of life”. The Bishop spoke about the “institutional violence that persecutes and banishes those who disagree with the status quo and want changes in the country’s leaders, as the latter force many of our loved ones to find new ways and search for new horizons to ensure their own survival”. He mentioned as well the reality of health professionals who work “acts of magic” to live in a country which does not allow them “to exercise their profession even with the necessary bare minimum.”
The Venezuelan people victim of geopolitical interests
The prelate did not ignore the “international and geopolitical situation” currently afflicting Venezuela, moulded, he noted, by “shadowy interests, hypocritically uninterested in the lives of millions of human beings, pushed into the most abject poverty.” The country is the victim of a system led by people who care only about “what they can get out of Venezuela and not what they can do for it.”
Bishop Basabe stressed how important it would be for the people to have politicians who truly love the country, who hold “sufficient ethical principles of reference,” and not “self-centred and partisan interests”. The Venezuelan people, “eager for change”, has been betrayed, he said, by “those merchants of politics in whom it placed its trust, on 6 December 2015, because they aspired to change” but in the end “sold themselves for a pittance”.
This people “is thus victim of the new Holofernes – like in Bethulia – who took control of the country, which they can hold only through force. And despite the oath they took to defend the country and its citizens, today they are politically biased and cowardly turned against the same people when it demands its rights and cries out for justice.”
Mary, example of a sorrowful mother
Mindful of the reason for the pilgrimage and rooted in the love for Mary ‘Divina Pastora’, the Bishop compared the suffering of the Virgin over the death of Jesus to the suffering of millions of Venezuelan mothers faced with “the death of their children from hunger and malnutrition and from their physical absence due to their forced migration.” Hence, Bishop Basabe asked Mary for her intercession to see “Venezuela move along the paths of true peace, democracy and freedom.”
The Bishop’s long and energetic homily ended by loud applause from the congregation, and he ended with a message of hope, faith and unity for the Venezuelan people. “It is time for trust and unity so that we, as a people, can set ourselves up as a wall of peaceful resistance against those who want to besiege us and make us lose trust in God and in a better destiny through the intimidating use of power and might.” Likewise, he urged everyone to counter “improper behaviour” that allows “evil”, not “goodness” to grow.