Haiti: Masses and bells against kidnappings
IN THE WAKE OF THE KIDNAPPING OF CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND LAY PEOPLE IN HAITI, Aid to the Church in Church (ACN) has expressed its solidarity with the country’s Catholic Church. At its meeting April 13, the Haitian bishops’ conference condemned the kidnappings with “great disgust” and lamented a “dictatorship of kidnapping.” The bishops called on all Catholic institutions of the island nation, such as schools and universities, to close April 15 to protest the increasing number of kidnappings. In addition, all church bells in the country rang at noon. The bishops invited priests to implore the grace of God for the land and the conversion of hearts at Mass.
On Mercy Sunday April 11, five priests, three women religious and three lay people were kidnapped on the way to the installation of a pastor. They have not been released so far. A priest and a nun had been kidnapped last year.
Speaking to ACN, Bishop Jean Desinord of Hinche said that there is great fear among Catholic priests and religious that they could become victims of kidnapping themselves. “For several years, the life of Haitians has been a nightmare,” said the bishops. Heavily armed bandits kidnapped citizens, even children are not spared. “The majority of the abducted people are humiliated, raped and tortured. Some of them do not find their way back to normal. When does this Way of the Cross end,” asked the bishops.
“We must not allow the bandits to kidnap, rape and kill any more,” emphasize the bishops. This requires a conversion of hearts and attitudes, they suggested; “let us unite in prayer and let us intensify our efforts to build another country that corresponds to what the Lord wants for us.” The bishops expressly thank all who have shown their solidarity through their prayers and words of encouragement.