By Senhan Bolelli
Pope Francis wrote a letter to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro indicating conditions are not suitable for the Vatican help mediate the country’s political crisis, according to Italian media on Wednesday.
A portion of the letter — which comes after Maduro asked for Francis’ help in fostering dialogue in Venezuela — published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
The pope highlighted the common good of the Venezuelan people should be put above other interest and said, “Different parties in conflict should work for unity and peace.”
Francis also said Venezuelan Catholic bishops went to great lengths to achieve a peaceful and institutional solution to the political and social crises in the country.
The country is about 70 percent Catholic.
Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.
Tensions climbed Jan. 23 when Juan Guaido declared himself interim president, but Maduro has so far refused calls to step down.
Maduro has accused the U.S. of orchestrating a coup against his government and said he is open to dialogue with the opposition.
The U.S. has led an international campaign to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Maduro, including sanctioning the country’s state-owned oil company and a joint venture with its Nicaraguan counterpart.
Russia, China, and Iran have put their weight behind Maduro, as has Turkey.