Haiti’s bishops express sadness at assassination of the president, condemn spiral of violence

IN A STATEMENT received by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) July 7, the episcopal conference of Haiti has expressed its astonishment and condolences at the news of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, the night of July 6-7 at his private residence. During the attack, the president’s wife, Martine Moïse, was also shot. In the early hours of July 7, she was taken to a Miami hospital where she is currently in a critical but stable condition. The bishops condemned “this unacceptable and shocking murder and offers its deepest condolences to the parents and friends” of the victims.

“This sad event marks an unfortunate turning point in the history of our people,” the bishops of Haiti said, one marked “by the deliberate choice of violence made, for some time, by many sectors of the population as a method of survival and dispute resolution.”

Violence in the country has increased dramatically in recent years. According to a report by the National Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, violence, and crime in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince increased dramatically between January and March 2021. In the metropolitan area there were 131 violent deaths, of which 34 victims could not even be identified.

In its report, the Commission noted the general feeling of fear among the population due to the lack of security and indicated that kidnappings were a real threat to the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince, with an average of one or two kidnappings per day, but as many as five or six on certain days.

Given the chaotic situation, the bishops recall that “violence only feeds violence and can only lead to horror.” The country, which is in a “political impasse,” can only solve its problems “through dialogue and consensus.” The bishops suggested the creation of a national forum for discussion and dialogue that includes everyone and asks the population to abandon weapons and choose life.

Photo by Valerian Mazataud/KEYSTONE

For his part, Rafael D’Aquí, in charge of Haiti projects for ACN, said that the assassination “is a sign of the total lack of stability that exists in the country. It is a great challenge for the Church, which has a key role as a promoter of peace.” 

Speaking of ACN’s work in Haiti, D’Aqui highlighted the support provided for many years “to this country deeply affected by poverty and social injustice.” “The creation of a leadership with a heart deeply rooted in faith is a fundamental pillar for the reconstruction of Haiti,” explained D’Aqui.

D’Aqui asked for prayers for the people of Haiti: “I acknowledge the great effort of the Church to give signs of hope to people in a situation of despair, after so many natural catastrophes and due to extreme poverty. We cannot abandon them. Let us join the request of the bishops and ask Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Patroness and Protector of Haiti, to help them and free Haiti from the bonds of hatred and evil.”

—Maria Lozano