Unrest in Haiti Unrest in Haiti  (AFP or licensors)

Haiti's Bishop Dumas: Church and people tired of kidnappings, killings

In an interview with Vatican News, Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau-Miragoâne and vice-president of the Haitian Bishops Conference decries the unabated violence in the Caribbean country, as he, with the Episcopal Conference, appeal to authorities to intervene wisely for the good of the entire nation.

By Federico Piana and Deborah Castellano Lubov

A few days ago, a relative of a nun, the superior of a religious order, disappeared without a trace.  Her abduction was like that of the six sisters of the Saint-Anne congregation in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, who were later released in late January, after several days of captivity.

As Haiti's list of murders and abductions grows always longer, the Bishops refuse to give up. "In the name of God,"  Haiti's Episcopal Conference appealed, "we ask the authorities to end the suffering of the Haitian people."

Despite exhortations that seem to fall on deaf ears, their efforts are empowered by their love for their people and faith in the Lord.

"We have had enough murders, rapes, kidnappings, which have occurred especially in the last three years," wrote the ten Haitian prelates, as they urged local authorities to "realize the seriousness of the current situation, and make a wise decision for the good of the whole nation whose foundations are seriously threatened."

Risk of civil war

Bishop Pierre-André Dumas, aside from his role in the Conference, is the pastor of Anse-à-Veau-Miragoâne, the Diocese where the six sisters were kidnapped. In an attempt to save them, he had even offered himself to the kidnappers as a bargaining chip.

In an interview with Vatican News' Federico Piana, Bishop Dumas acknowledged that the conflicts among armed gangs risk degenerating into a civil conflict, as he urged the current Prime Minister to lead a peaceful transition of power, as soon as possible, to avoid further bloodshed.

"We were convinced that after the political agreements solemnly undertaken on the anniversary of the fall of the dictatorship, on 7 Feb., it could become the right date for a new beginning in which to create the conditions for the birth of democratic institutions, but it was not so," he explained.

Need for peaceful solutions

The people can't take it anymore, Bishop Dumas warned, as he sees riots and upheavals on the horizon, given Haitians "are tired of death and poverty."

In full harmony with the Episcopal Conference, he stressed that the Church is alongside the people, but the task of the Church "is to make it understood that peaceful solutions must be found." 

Bishop Dumas lamented that Haitian society is collapsing and paralyzed by terror.

"It has now been four weeks since children stopped studying because schools are closed due to the escalation of violence," he illustrated, noting, "This too is a sign of failure."

The Bishop recalled the Church in Haiti's appeal to authorities "for courageous actions inspired by wisdom."

Path of peace and freedom

Bishop Dumas' letter for Lent to his faithful, he shared, will contain a reference "to the journey towards true freedom," made from peace and fraternal love.

"We must be inspired by Jesus who says: arise, for we must go," he encouraged, and therefore must imitate a bit "Elijah, Moses, Joshua, and Jonah, who walked to awaken the people, to come out of their spiritual comas, and be able to live as God wants."

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13 February 2024, 13:22