By Lisa Zengarini
As Haiti continues to reel in political, economic, social and humanitarian turmoil, amidst growing insecurity, local bishops have once again urged Haitian political leaders to take responsibility and have called on the international community not to abandon Haiti, saying the country needs a moral jolt of patriotism to overcome the crisis. “We cannot remain indifferent to the tragic events of recent months”, the bishops write in a strongly worded Christmas Message.
The situation in Haiti has been out of control for years, amid economic crisis, social unrest and growing abductions by street gangs who are threatening all Haitian citizens. The situation has further deteriorated after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, on July 7 this year, and the 7.2 earthquake in August which caused over 2,000 dead and 12,000 injured in the southern part of the island. In recent days, the explosion of a tanker in northern city of Cap-Haïtien, has caused about 75 victims.
"Shouldn’t such socio-economic and political chaos challenge the conscience of those who have responsibility in the international community, and lead them to work together to help us and heal this wound and promote respect for universal rights?” Haitian bishops ask in their message. “And don’t our political leaders feel more worried than ever by this chaotic and disastrous situation that continues worsen?"
The message therefore to the consciences of all Haitians, calling for “a moral and patriotic jolt to fight the evil forces causing so many atrocities and suffering” tto everybody
They urge all those who have responsibility in politics, society and the economy, to engage in finding a “lasting solution to the crisis that the country has been facing for too long” with “a sense of responsibility, understanding and will for peace”.
Expressing solidarity to the victims of kidnapping, rape and violence and to their bereaved families and firmly condemning these “fratricidal acts”, bishops once again call for the re-establishment of law and order in the country and urge the leaders of armed groups to disarm so as to contribute to rebuilding a more just, more humane and more fraternal country”.
The bishops thank Pope Francis for his support and solidarity with Haiti and Haitians, referring in particular to his words at the Angelus prayer of 31 October when he asked world leaders to help the country and not to abandon the Haitian people.
They also deplore the fact that so many Haitians who are forced to leave their country to find a better life elsewhere are often victims of abuse and discrimination abroad: “In communion with the Holy Father, we ask that the principles requiring respect for the dignity of the human person be applied to all”.
The Christmas Message wraps up with a call on all Haitians to stop putting their “petty interests before the interests of the Nation” and intensify their prayers: “Let us pray that the Spirit of wisdom and discernment will enlighten us and guide us in the active search for an integral renewal of our country”. This call was also made by Pope Francis during his General Audience of 15 December following the devastating fuel tanker explosion at Cap-Haïtien.
By Lisa Zengarini