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Haitian archbishop demands release of abducted Catholics

10 people, including priests and religious, were kidnapped Sunday

Child earthquake refugees pose for the camera at a tent city in Port-au-Prince in the file photo from March 2010. One decade later, tens of thousands are still living in tent camps.

Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC

Child earthquake refugees pose for the camera at a tent city in Port-au-Prince in the file photo from March 2010. One decade later, tens of thousands are still living in tent camps.

Catholic News Agency 

PORT-AU-PRINCE | The archbishop of Port-au-Prince has called for the release of 10 people who were kidnapped in Haiti on Sunday and are being held for ransom.

“We demand security and peace for all missionaries and all people,” Archbishop Max Mesidor said. “We demand the immediate and unconditional release of our detained brothers and sisters.”

Five priests, two nuns, and three laypeople were abducted at Croix-des-Bouquets, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, April 11, 2021. According to local news, they were taken while on the way to attend the installation of a parish priest. 

A crucifix was the only thing left unscathed in the ruins of Sacred Heart Church or Legliz Sacre Coeur in the Turgeau section of Port-au-Prince after the 2010 earthquake, from which Haiti has still not recovered completely. Hurricanes and COVID-19 have compounded the misery and suffering of the people.

Photographer: COURTESY | Brittany Galvin

A crucifix was the only thing left unscathed in the ruins of Sacred Heart Church or Legliz Sacre Coeur in the Turgeau section of Port-au-Prince after the 2010 earthquake, from which Haiti has still not recovered completely. Hurricanes and COVID-19 have compounded the misery and suffering of the people.

According to Haitian media, the “400 Mawozo” gang admitted culpability for the kidnapping and is demanding $1 million in ransom. 

Two of the kidnapped, one priest and one nun, are citizens of France.

Church leaders in Haiti have condemned the kidnappings and called for action to be taken against the perpetrators.

Father Gilbert Peltrop, the secretary general of the Haitian Conference of the Religious, told Reuters that “the nation must stand up to fight these thugs.” 

Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoane, vice president of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, told AFP that “the Church prays and stands in solidarity with all the victims of this heinous act.” 

“This is too much,” he said. “The time has come for these inhuman acts to stop.” 

The Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince warned in a statement that gang violence has reached “unprecedented” levels in the country.

“For some time now, we have been witnessing the descent into hell of Haitian society,” the archdiocese stated, as reported by AFP. “The public authorities who are doing nothing to resolve this crisis are not immune from suspicion,” the statement continued, condemning “complacency and complicity.”

The number of kidnappings for ransom has recently increased in Haiti, and protests have denounced the surge of violence plaguing the country. 

On April 1, four members of the Seventh-day Adventist Gospel Kreyòl Ministry Church in Diquini were abducted during a ceremony being broadcast live on Facebook. Many who were watching the service reportedly thought the kidnapping was an April Fool’s Day prank before realizing they had witnessed a crime. 

The foursome, including the church’s pastor, pianist, and two technicians, were held as hostages until Easter Sunday, and were released after a ransom was paid.

Haiti has also been affected by other crises, including natural disasters and a lack of health care infrastructure to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2010 earthquake killed 200,000 people and left one million people homeless; one decade later, tens of thousands were still living in tent camps. In October 2016, more than 1.4 million people were in need of emergency aid after Hurricane Matthew made landfall. Violent protests have also occurred in Haiti since July 2018, with protesters calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise.

Comments from readers

Jackie - 04/21/2021 08:08 PM
The governments of the abducted need to immediately step in & rescue their citizens.
Hope Sadowski - 04/16/2021 11:36 AM
The poor people of Haiti long suffering. Between bad government and all these thugs abusing the people. Where is the international community to step up and help. God be with them.

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