Kidnapping of priest highlights ongoing crisis in Haiti
A WAVE OF UNREST AND KIDNAPPINGS IS CAUSING A BREAKDOWN OF NATIONAL LIFE IN HAITI according to Archbishop Launay Saturné of Cap-Haïtien.
April 28, a group of heavily armed bandits kidnapped several people, including Father Whatner Aupont, priest of St Joseph the Worker’s church at Grand’ Ravine in the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne. The kidnapping took place near Croix-des-Bouquets, on the outskirts of the country’s capital Port-au-Prince.
Representatives of the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne immediately made an appeal to the police to carry out its duty of “protecting and serving” the people of Haiti and helping to set the priest free. The following day the diocese gave thanks for the release of the priest at Croix-des-Bouquets and asked for prayers for the liberation of other people who were still in the hands of the kidnappers.
In a statement to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Saturné said that the socio-political and economic situation of the country is becoming more and more difficult. “The deterioration of the situation in the country is due to the multiplication of armed gangs, the constant cases of kidnapping, the ubiquitous insecurity, inflation, especially the rise in the prices of essential goods, bloody incidents and a flood of upheavals and acts of cruelty.”
The archbishop told ACN that people would like to go about their business but were terribly afraid. “Nobody knows how long this troubled situation, this political instability and insecurity are going to last. Many sectors and institutions of national life have become shaky and almost non-existent. No-one is spared from this insecurity. We are all exposed.”
In its statement, the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne also implored the help of St Joseph and of Mary “in the face of this new plague of kidnapping which is destroying the health, life, economy, families and social structures of our beloved Republic of Haiti.” It added that those who hold political power should “prove their ability to protect lives and goods.”
ACN supported some 70 projects in Haiti in 2021, at a cost of more than 1$1.5M; above all, the organization has provided vehicles for pastoral care and funded the religious formation of laity and priests.