Caracas, Venezuela, Mar 5, 2013 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The secretary general of the bishops' conference of Venezuela, Bishop Jesus Gonzalez de Zarate Salas, called for national unity after the death of President Hugo Chavez.
The bishop, an auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Caracas, said that this unity is essential in order for the country to face the “painful fact” of Chavez's passing.
“At this moment, we speak to our highest feelings,” the prelate told the television program “Hello Citizen,” on the private channel Globovision.
Bishop Gonzalez de Zarate Salas noted that “death is not the end of our life, death gives way to a life full of happiness, beside God, our father.”
Vice president Nicolás Maduro announced the afternoon of March 5 that the Venezuelan leader died at the age of 58 from cancer. Chavez passed away at the Caracas Military Hospital at 4:25 p.m.
The president had been gravely ill with cancer for almost two years and had not been seen publicly for months. He was for a long time in Cuba undergoing operations.
The White House issued a statement Tuesday saying that “At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez's passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government.”
“As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.”
On several occasions the bishops of Venezuela had called on their people to pray for the health of the president.
At the beginning of Lent in February, the Archbishop of Caracas Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, encouraged the faithful to pray for Chavez' recovery.