What’s behind Venezuela’s new archbishop appointments?

(The Pillar. Edgar Beltrán).

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of 79-year-old Cardinal Baltasar Porras of Caracas, and appointed Bishop Raúl Biord, SDB of the Diocese of La Guaira as his successor. The pope also filled two major vacant sees. Archbishop Jesús González de Zárate of Cumaná was appointed as the archbishop of Valencia. González is also president of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference. Bishop Polito Rodríguez of San Carlos was appointed archbishop of Barquisimeto. Those appointments – in three of the four largest sees in Venezuela – would appear to clear an episcopal deadlock in the country that had lasted for the past few years. There are several possible reasons for the appointments – including a strategic decision in an election year or the result of Vatican diplomacy. But whatever the reason, the relationship between Church and state remains complicated in the volatile nation.

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