Catholic bishops in Venezuela have accused the country's government of failing to solve "serious problems" including shortages of food and medicine as well as providing freedom and security to the citizens of the South American nation and called for an to "repression", according to a statement released late last week.

Catholic news agency Agenzia Fides reports that the statement released by the Bishops' Conference of Venezuela on Friday concludes a decision by President Nicolas Maduro, announced amid ongoing mass protests against his regime in the country this week, to convene what he has called a "constituent assembly" to reform the constitution as "unnecessary and dangerous" for the country's democracy.

"The proposal for a constituent assembly seems to re-present the 2007 reform that was rejected by the people in a consultative referendum that same year," the bishops said in the statement.

They have also denounced what they called "repression against...legitimate protest with violence carried out by state security bodies: enough repression!" and have appealed for the population to continue raising their voices in a "sign of protest" but without "falling into the game of those who, by causing violence, want to lead the country towards scenarios of conflict in order to aggravate the situation and stay in power".

The bishops have invited all Catholic communities to convene in a day of prayer for peace on Sunday, 21st May.

Protestors say that at least 36 people have been killed in clashes with security forces in protests since April.