CARACAS, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's government and Catholic bishops on Friday met to discuss a peaceful resolution to the country's increasingly violent political crisis.
Venezuela's Episcopal Conference (CEV) and special presidential commission for a constituent assembly to draft a new Constitution (ANC) agreed talks were needed to overcome the protracted conflict, which has led to shortages of basic goods.
The CEV said it wants the government to do more to ensure access to food and medicine.
Both groups also discussed the process of electing members to the assembly, which will be tasked with drawing up the document.
The country's main conservative opposition coalition (MUD) has refused the invitation to take part, fearing it will only legitimize the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Following the meeting, ANC head and Education Minister Elias Jaua explained the methodology for electing the assembly members, saying it "will be direct, universal and secret," to allay fears the body will be biased.
While the church backs dialogue, Bishop Diego Padron said the CEV believes the constitutional initiative "is not what the country needs, it is food and medicine. We believe the Constitution is not the essential element the country is asking for."
Anti-government protests, which escalated in April, claimed their 47th victim on Friday, with the death of Paul Moreno, 25, after he was wounded on Thursday during protests in the western state of Zulia.
Another 600 people have been injured in the protests and some 1,000 have been arrested.