Bishop Lang calls for “cessation of suffering in Haiti”

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Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the International Affairs Department, has expressed his concern at the rapidly deteriorating situation in Haiti.

Senior clergy from within the country have warned that Haiti is on the brink of civil war, with armed gangs causing chaos on the streets.

Bishop Lang said:

“We have heard the calls for peace and disarmament in Haiti. Our prayers extend to our Haitian sisters and brothers during this season of Lent, a time of reflection and renewal leading to the Feast of Easter, the celebration of new life.

“I encourage Catholics in England and Wales to join me in prayer for justice, peace, and the cessation of the suffering in Haiti.”

Haiti has been suffering from extreme violence for weeks after a gang uprising by armed groups who say they want to remove prime minister Ariel Henry from office.

Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Mésidor of Port-au-Prince, and President of the Haitian Bishops’ Conference, said:

“There is a real danger of civil war breaking out…The armed gangs out like an organised army.”

He added:

“The police cannot keep up with them.”

Archbishop Mésidor also explained that the kidnappings are rife, and Church personnel also face the risk of being abducted:

“There are kidnappings everywhere… Everyone is afraid, including the religious. As soon as you leave Port-au-Prince, you are in danger. The gangs even come into the churches to kidnap the people there.”

In the Sunday Angelus (17th March) Pope Francis expressed relief over the freeing of two teachers and four of six religious who were kidnapped in Haiti, and called for the release of the two remaining captive – and all others –  in the “beloved country, so fraught with violence”.

He called for political and social leaders to “engage in a spirit of solidarity in the pursuit of the common good, supporting a peaceful transition to a country that, with the help of the international community, may be equipped with solid institutions capable of restoring order and tranquility among its citizens.”