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New Venezuelan cardinal Baltazar Porras: a shepherd amongst wolves


In Venezuela there is no middle ground. There are friends, and there are enemies. The new cardinal Baltazar Porras speaks frankly about how difficult it really is to foster dialogue in a radicalized context. 

Archbishop of Mérida (Venezuela)
"This is not healthy because it is what causes there to be an enormous lack of credibility in the moment we live in. We have forgotten the meaning of institutions. There are no institutions, but rather who governs them, who interprets or orders things according to his own understanding.”

Now, as a cardinal, he has a much more direct access to the pope who, from Rome, is pushing for the negotiating committee between the government and the opposition in Venezuela. 

He shares Pope Francis' opinion that the local churches have to undertake their responsibilities in all aspects: religious, political, and social.

Archbishop of Mérida (Venezuela)
"He has always had, and he had it before, this sense of the importance of the local. When one asks the current pope: What do you think of this, or that? He could give his opinion, but he says: It should be you who find the answers. You know the local and national reality. Don't ask for recipes.”

The new Venezuelan cardinal is from Caracas. He was born in 1944. Next year he will celebrate 50 years as a priest. Among his memories there is his father, who is a humble man, but a man of principle. Together with his uncle, they were his most merciless critics.

Archbishop of Mérida (Venezuela)
"They arrived one weekend at Mass, they would pick a strategic spot, and at the end, they would say: You did not prepare the homily and you improvised what you were going to say! Respect people. Another day: What you did today was excellent!”

Baltazar Porras is one of the 17 new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis in the last consistory. They reflect Pope Francis' spirit: shepherds amongst the people.