Port au Prince (Agenzia Fides) - "In the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate, who came to bring us true peace, we launch a cry from our hearts as Pastors to our Haitian brothers and sisters, here and elsewhere, and to the international community, about the extreme gravity of the situation": this is the appeal of the Bishops of Haiti in their Christmas message, which opens with a quote from the prophet Isaiah: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone" (Is 9:1). "This prophecy – they explain - addressed to the people of Israel in exile and despair, finds an echo in the daily situation in Haiti. As a people, we live in a permanent exodus in search of a better life, inside and outside the country".
The Bishops call on illegally armed groups and those who finance them to "stop the murderous madness of hatred, of contempt for life" and "silence your weapons!".
Quoting Pope Francis, they invoke: "Instead of fratricidal war, we must invest in peace and love, in the reorganization of our infrastructure, health and education systems, as well as in changing our mentalities". They observe that it is time to rebuild the institutions, especially Justice, "to curb the culture of impunity which is the logical cause of the perpetuation of corruption and violence in the country" to guarantee, with a spirit of belonging to this land of Haiti, a better future.
Joining other sectors of society, the Bishops believe it is "necessary and urgent" to effectively support the National Police, with suitable equipment and adequate treatment, "to help fight the scourge of crime and create a climate for the normalization of life in the country". establishment of a climate of security in the country remains one of the necessary conditions for the resumption of economic, cultural and social activities and the organization of democratic and transparent elections. The message of the Bishops of Haiti touches on another painful aspect: the emigration of so many people who, forced by the unbearable conditions of the country, are forced to take refuge "in haste and by all means" in territories where they are not always welcome. In particular, in the neighboring Dominican Republic, "they are the object of indescribable treatment, which tramples on the principles and imperatives of human rights, international humanitarian law, refugee law and, in particular, the Protocol of the 1999 Agreement". In this sense, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Haiti reports that it is in talks with the Conference of Dominican Bishops on this immigration issue and invites the State authorities to "rectify the situation and improve the conditions of existence and well-being of the Haitian people in order to encourage him to stay at home". In addition, they ask for a gesture of appeasement to release tensions in the migratory relations between the two countries destined to share common borders indefinitely and live together. "Christmas time invites us to put into practice the values of mutual respect, justice, harmony, fraternity and solidarity on which to build and found this new Haiti so desired by all", the Bishops conclude, hoping that "the light of Truth shine on Haiti and in our hearts so that we can find hope and live a Merry Christmas 2022 and a Happy New Year 2023 in justice and peace, love and respect for life. The Caribbean country has been in difficulties for years, devastated by a multifaceted crisis that has led to institutional, economic and social chaos. Despite the appeals of the Bishops and the Pope to local politicians and the international community, the situation has also worsened as a result of natural disasters (see Fides, 28/10/2021; 11/12/2021). Describing the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe, Father Antonio Menegon, a Camillian missionary in Haiti, points out that "unprecedented violence has invaded the country, generating insecurity, fear, famine, hunger and despair; the cholera emergency has also returned, claiming the lives mainly of children” (see Fides 2/12/2022). Other victims of the violence of the armed gangs that govern, sure of maintaining their impunity, are the missionaries, kidnapped or killed to rob them. The last one was the Italian missionary Sister Luisa Dell'Orto, Little Sister of the Gospel of Charles de Foucauld, murdered on June 25 in Port-au-Prince. She had lived there for 20 years, dedicated above all to street children, in a very poor suburb of the capital, whom she welcomed and cared for, offering them a safe place (see Fides, 26/6/2022). (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 20/12/2022)