Haiti’s Catholic bishops issue urgent appeal for end to violence — By: Catholic News Agency

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de l’Assomption in Cap-Haitien, Haiti / Rotorhead 30A Productions/Shutterstock

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 22, 2024 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Amid the violence racking the country, the Haitian Bishops’ Conference has issued a letter to the faithful that recalls Isaiah’s prophecy: “No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise” (Is 60:18).

Based on this hope for a country without violence, the prelates this week issued an urgent call for the end of the widespread violence and for the active search for peace and national reconciliation.

In the letter, the prelates expressed their profound concern over the murders, the settling of scores, witch hunts, looting, and other acts of violence going on that have plunged the country into a major humanitarian crisis.

“This dream of a country without violence makes us raise our voices to call for an end to the acts that aim to reduce Haiti to ruins and ashes,” the 10 bishops of Haiti stated.

“The current situation fills us with pain and concern. It is an urgent call for reflection and action,” they stressed.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported that from March 8–14, a total of 16,947 people left the capital due to increasing armed attacks and widespread insecurity.

These people have sought refuge in the provinces, especially in the departments of the Grand Sud region — Grand’Anse, Nippes, South, and Southeast — facing the risk of traveling along routes controlled by gangs. According to the IOM report, the southern region is already home to more than 116,000 people, most of whom have fled the capital in recent months.

Adding to the security crisis is political instability following the resignation last week of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who left office without calling general elections, as well as the lack of food, health care, and drinking water, among other needs.

The bishops “encouraged “the efforts of all sectors and all the vital forces of the nation with a view to finding a solution to the current crisis and restoring peace and security for all the sons and daughters of the Haitian nation, by providing the country with a form of inclusive transitional government.”

However, religious leaders have also made it clear that their prophetic mission does not allow them to actively participate in politics and, therefore, they have not “appointed anyone to represent the Catholic Church in the Presidential Council or in any government structure.” 

In line with Pope Francis, who recently expressed his closeness to the Haitian people, the bishops also called on the international community to provide its support in these difficult times. 

“May the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom we invoke in Haiti under the name of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, come to our aid and may, through her intercession, God raise us up and deliver us from evil,” the bishops concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Read More