AMERICA/HAITI - Redemptorists report the kidnapping of three Catholic women religious

Friday, 8 March 2024

Port au Prince (Agenzia Fides) - "Pray for peace and for an end to violence in the country where criminal groups spread fear and terror among the population" is the request of Father Renold Antoine, missionary of the Redemptorists (CSsR).
The latest escalation of violence on the island began after Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced during the recently concluded Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit in Georgetown, Guyana that elections would be held in Haiti on August 31, 2025. "The news has ignited the anger of the armed groups that control the Haitian capital and its suburbs. Once rivals, they have now joined forces to demand the resignation of the country's prime minister," confirms the missionary. “Since then, police stations, police departments and even Toussaint Louverture International Airport have been targeted by gang members. Schools, hospitals, orphanages, banks, public buildings and many shops were looted. The civilian population is terrorized by the violence of armed groups. Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in camps, where they feel safer but often live in inhumane conditions. Almost all government institutions are inactive and disregarded, two large prisons in the capital area, where members of the country's most feared gangs were held, were occupied by banned armed groups, allowing the mass escape of inmates."
Father Renold also reports on the abduction of three sisters from the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny on March 5th. On January 24th, the Catholic Church in Haiti invited people to a day of prayer for the release of all those kidnapped. "The situation has worsened. For many, the cause lies in the stubbornness and amateurism of those in power who do not stop the violence of banned groups. This situation has worsened poverty and health problems in this country, which was already the poorest in the Western Hemisphere." "We Redemptorists", concluded Father Renold, “appeal once again to those in power and to political figures both in power and in opposition to do what is necessary to end the violence and find a lasting solution that will lead the country out of this terrible crisis. We call on the international community to act because the situation is extremely serious. We also appeal to everyone's conscience because it is time to stand up and say NO to this reality in which we have found ourselves for so many years. We must not be satisfied with our individual well-being at the expense of our collective well-being. We must refuse to participate in the atrocities committed against our people. We are all bound and condemned to live together in this land of freedom. Haiti is ours. Let us join together to change this terrible paradigm. Let us rather say YES to life, to progress, to collective well-being, to peace and security for all." (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 8/3/2024)