The Bishops of Haiti have released a message deploring the catastrophic situation prevailing in the country and called for a national dialogue. “The country is on the brink of an explosion. The daily lives of the people revolve around death, murder, impunity and uncertainty,” the Haitian bishops’ conference wrote in a statement issued on Feb.2, a copy of which was obtained by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
For months, Haiti has been going through a severe political crisis. At the heart of the conflict between government and the opposition is the length of the term of office of President Jovenel Moïse. The president maintains that his term of office is set to end in the coming year. His critics, on the other hand, believe that his term came to an end Feb. 7, as stipulated in the constitution. The differing viewpoints concerning the official end of the presidential term grew out of discord over when it began. In their statement, the bishops indirectly support the position of the president’s critics. They said: “It seems to us that everyone supports the principle that no one stands above the law and constitution of the country.”
According to the bishops, the head of state made use of electoral laws and the provisions of the constitution on numerous occasions in the past, thereby confirming their validity for himself. In their statement, the bishops further emphasize that “only the bridge of consensus will help the different players” keep Haiti from falling even deeper into the abyss.
In light of the chaos in the country, the bishops clearly expressed the position of the Catholic Church. “In the succession of Christ, the Church is always on the side of law, truth, justice and respect for life and human dignity,” they wrote.
The crisis is exacerbated by economic problems and a dramatically worsening security situation. As an example, the bishops refer to the many kidnappings that have made life in the country unbearable. They also expressed hope that the death squads can be persuaded to lay down their weapons.
ACN has supported the Church in Haiti over many years. In 2020 alone, more than $660M was approved in support of more than 30 projects. The donations given by ACN’s donors were used to purchase and maintain vehicles, to grant COVID-19 emergency aid, Mass stipends for priests, and formation courses for lay persons, catechists and seminarians.