"What am I afraid of? A bloodbath," , adding that "the problem of violence terrifies me."
"What I'm feeling is, I'm suffering for what is happening in Venezuela and that's why I hope they find an agreement, I don't know," the first Latin American pontiff told journalists aboard a plane on his return trip from Panama.
"I realize that it's not even right to say 'find an agreement', rather a fair and peaceful solution. What is it that scares me? Bloodshed. And there as well I ask for greatness from the people who can help solve the problem. The problem of violence frightens me. After all the effort made in Colombia, what happened at the police academy was horrific. Bloodshed solves nothing. For this reason, I have to be — I don't like the word balanced, I have to be a pastor for all and if help is needed, then they can find an agreement and ask for it."
Before flying out of Panama, Francis called for a "just and peaceful solution" to the crisis and said he was praying for an outcome "respecting human rights."
"Faced with the grave situation it is going through, I ask the Lord that a just and peaceful solution is sought and achieved in order to overcome the crisis, respecting human rights (and) the good of all the people of the country," he said.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro rejected an international ultimatum to call elections within eight days as opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido violated the constitution by declaring himself "interim president."
Since then Guaido, the United States and right-wing governments in the region have been calling on the Venezuelan military to oust Maduro. However, the country's defense minister and top military brass have come out in support of Maduro and his government.
Britain, Germany, France and Spain all said they would recognize Guaido if Maduro failed to call new elections within eight days, an ultimatum Russia said was "absurd" and the Venezuelan foreign minister called "childlike."