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Pope praying for Haiti after assassination of president

Zuma/Evandro Inetti / SplashNews.com/East News

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 07/08/21

A message from Francis' secretary of state reiterates the pope's condemnation of violence as a means to resolve conflict.

After the “heinous assassination” of Haiti’s president, Pope Francis’ secretary of state has sent a papal message to the Apostolic Nuncio in Haiti offering the Holy Father’s condolences “to the Haitian people and to [the president’s] wife, who was also seriously wounded and whose life he commends to God.”

Jovenel Moïse, 53, was fatally shot and his wife was injured when attackers stormed their home early on Wednesday. First Lady Martine Moïse has been flown to Florida where she is said to be in a critical but stable condition and is receiving treatment.

The Holy Father said he is praying for the repose of the soul of the deceased.

He condemed “all forms of violence as a means of resolving crises and conflicts,” wishing for the Haitian people “a future of fraternal harmony, solidarity and prosperity.”

Meanwhile four suspects have themselves been killed by police, while two more have been arrested. 

President Moise started his term in 2017. He should have stood down in February. The United Nations called for free and fair elections, but in spite of widespread protest demonstrations, this had yet to happen. The country’s situation has progressively worsened.

Earlier this year, clergy and some of their relatives were kidnapped by a street gang, who demanded a ransom. 

Haiti has continued to struggle to recover from the 2010 earthquake that decimated the country.

Bishops denounce violence

The Haitian bishops’ conference released a statement, saying it “deplores and condemns this inadmissible and revolting murder” which, they said, marks “a regrettable turning point” in the country’s history.

Firmly condemning the use of violence as a means of resolving tensions in the country, the prelates vigorously call on the population to “go beyond their personal pride and their group interests” in the name of the common good. “Lay down the weapons! (…) Finally, choose fraternal living together in the interest of all and in the interest of Haiti!”

A power in place contested by the Church

This assassination comes after several months of escalating violence between gangs in Port-au-Prince, against the backdrop of a humanitarian and political crisis. A month ago, the bishops published a note in which they opposed the will of the president in place to organize a constitutional referendum without the agreement of the Parliament. They denounced the “terrifying evils” affecting the population of the country: “kidnapping”, “criminality”, “impunity”, “political instability” and “the deterioration of the structures of the State.”

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