An opposition supporter holds a rosary as she prays with others during a June 14 rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas. (Credit: Christian Veron/Reuters via CNS.).

TODAY VENEZUELA – Writing for Crux, Father Raymond de Souza makes the observation that Pope Francis has not mentioned Venezuela since an extraordinary meeting with the nation’s bishops on June 8.

“Is this silence a sign the Vatican’s diplomatic efforts have been counterproductive in solving the country’s current political crisis,” asks Father de Souza?

Since the Venezuelan bishops sent a delegation to speak with Pope Francis about the crisis in their country, the Vatican has made no new policy statements on the situation there—only repeating previous statements.

Father de Souza sees two possible ways to interpret the silence from the Vatican, which contrasts sharply with the outspoken statements from the Venezuelan hierarchy. Possibly the bishops tried (twice) to persuade the Holy Father to take a more active role, and failed. Alternatively, the Venezuelan bishops asked the Pope to maintain his silence, leaving them to make policy statements.

In any case, the strange contrast has enabled President Nicolas Maduro to try an odd political maneuver, issuing a public appeal to the Pope to tone down the Venezuelan bishops.

“The visit two weeks ago to Rome of the leading bishops of Venezuela may well have been unprecedented…apparently, clarifying that the pope was on their side, and not that of Venezuela’s dictator, Nicolás Maduro”, writes Father de Souza