Catholic bishops of Haiti plead for an end to violence and for national reconciliation

ACN will be joining the day of prayer for the people of Haiti on 22 March

In a message dated 18 March, the Catholic bishops of Haiti expressed profound concern about the violence that is sweeping the country. The letter, which was sent to international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), and which is signed by all 10 of the country’s Catholic bishops, calls for an end to all violence and for national reconciliation, echoing a recent appeal by Pope Francis.

In prayer before the still-standing Cross of the Cathedral in Port-au-Prince.
In prayer before the still-standing Cross of the Cathedral in Port-au-Prince.

In their message, the bishops encourage all national agencies and players to find a solution for the current crisis and to restore peace and security for all Haitians. They also ask for the establishment of an inclusive transitional government, capable of ensuring true national harmony.

The letter explains that in order to retain their neutrality, the Haitian Bishops’ Conference will not be naming anybody to represent the Catholic Church in the Presidential Council or in any other governing structure. Nonetheless, they express their hope that ongoing dialogue will lead to an inclusive, patriotic and long-lasting agreement, in the best interest of all the Haitian people.

The bishops stress that all sectors of the Haitian society should support the dream of a country with no violence: “Let us put an end to these violent acts that cause so much suffering, because violence breeds violence, hatred breeds more hatred, and death breeds more dead. Each act of destruction sets Haiti back in its march towards the progress which we all desire”, says the statement. The bishops also mention Pope Francis’ invitation, issued during the Angelus prayer, on Sunday 10 March, to pray for the end of all forms of violence in Haiti: “Each violent death committed against another human being is a wound in the flesh of humanity; each violent death diminishes us as people.”

Finally, the bishops – including Pierre-André Dumas, who is hospitalised in the United States, recovering from an explosion in his home, the causes of which are still unclear – invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, to aid Haiti, and on God to free the country from evil.

Holy Mass at the parish of the Sacred Heart in Haiti.
Holy Mass at the parish of the Sacred Heart in Haiti.

Following this urgent plea, the Episcopal Conference of Latin America (CELAM), the Latin-American Confederation of Religious (CLAR) and Caritas Latin America sent ACN an invitation to join a day of prayer on 22 March for the people of Haiti.

“Many communities still celebrate Friday of Sorrows, or Mary at the Foot of the Cross on this day. The Virgin joins in the suffering of her Son. This is Mary, suffering today for her Son in the face of the people of Haiti, crucified by Misery and violence. We ask our mother of tenderness and mercy for her intercession, that the Lord make straighten the path, open hearts, move wills, so that our brothers may enjoy the fullness of life”, the statement says.

The humanitarian situation in Haiti has become extremely serious over the past weeks, due to the political and social crisis that has taken over the country since the murder of the President, in July 2021. According to figures provided by CELAM and CLAR, over three million children are in need of humanitarian aid, 362,000 people are internally displaced, and half of the population lives in poverty, with a life expectancy of only 64 years.

Street scene in Haiti
Street scene in Haiti

Because of the violence, many people have lost their loved ones, women frequently have their fundamental rights violated, and many Haitians do not have the minimum conditions for a dignified life.

ACN encourages all its benefactors, friends and religious communities to join in this day of prayer so that, according to the words of the CELAM statement, “the voice of the Haitian people may be heard on earth and in heaven, trusting in the mercy of God and His compassion for His children”.

 

By Maria Lozano.
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