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April 09, 2014 AT 8:11 AM
Venezuela's government formally invited Vatican No. 2 Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Wednesday to mediate talks with the opposition in hopes of stemming violence that has killed dozens in the nation's worst unrest in a decade. In a letter, President Nicolas Maduro's government asked that Parolin, a former envoy to Venezuela who is now the Vatican's Secretary of State, be named a "good faith witness" to a dialogue finally agreed after two months of protests. A Vatican spokesman confirmed the Roman Catholic Church's willingness to mediate, but gave no more details. Venezuela's opposition coalition had indicated that current Vatican envoy, Aldo Giordano, would be attending the first formal talks, which are to start on Thursday in Caracas.