Haitian Church leaders have asked for “incessant prayers” for the release of six religious Sisters who were abducted in Haiti.

Port-au-Prince Archdiocese and the Haitian Conference of Religious condemned the “heinous” act and implored the perpetrators “in the name of God” to release the captives in a joint statement.

The authors – Archbishop Max Leroys Mesidor of Port-au-Prince, President of the Haitian Bishops’ Conference, and Father Morachel Bonhomme, President of the Haitian Conference of Religious – called on the kidnappers to stop “trampling on the inalienable dignity of God’s children”.

Expressing solidarity with the eight kidnapped people – six Sisters of Saint Anne and their two companions – and their families, they went on to denounce the growing problem of abduction, demanding that Haitian leaders exercise their “moral duty to ensure the security and protection of the lives and property of all citizens”.

Archbishop Mesidor and Father Bonhomme wrote: “It is distressing to note that no serious response has been provided for more than two years to the scourge of kidnappings…

“It is time to take the measures necessary to eradicate the scourges of kidnapping and violence by armed groups which are plunging the country into an increasingly confused and chaotic situation.”

Around three thousand people were kidnapped in Haiti last year, according to the UN.

The authors appealed to “the conscience of the kidnappers”, writing: “In the name of God, whom you should fear, stop these despicable and criminal practices which defile this sacred land that God has given us!

“Stop your murderous actions, this blind and senseless violence which only causes incalculable injuries, pain and suffering.”

The statement concluded by inviting “priests, religious men and women and the lay faithful, to organise a chain of continuous prayer, in all parishes and communities, for the release of those kidnapped”.

Today (24th January) is dedicated “to prayer, meditation and Eucharistic adoration”.

The abduction took place last Friday (19th January) in broad daylight when unidentified gunmen stopped the Sisters’ bus and took all eight people inside the vehicle to an unknown location.