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Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 8, 2021 / 08:12 am (CNA).- The Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference (CEV) announced Friday morning that the 69-year-old Bishop of Trujillo, Cástor Oswaldo Azuaje, has died of COVID-19.

Several priests across the country have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic reached the country, but Azuaje is the first Venezuelan bishop to die from the disease.

Azuaje was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, on October 19, 1951. He joined the Carmelites and completed his formation in Spain, Israel and Rome. He professed as a Discalced Carmelite in 1974, and was ordained a priest on Christmas Day, 1975, in Venezuela.

Azuaje assumed several leadership responsibilities within his religious Order.

In 2007 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Maracaibo, and in 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as Bishop of Trujillo.

“The Venezuelan Episcopate joins in grief over the death of our brother in the episcopal ministry, we remain in communion with Christian hope in the promise of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” the brief statement says.

Venezuela has 42 active bishops.

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