Six religious Sisters were kidnapped by armed assailants in Haiti last Friday (19th January), the Haitian Conference of Religious has confirmed.
The abduction took place in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, when six Sisters of Saint Anne – who have not been named – were travelling to a university.
The gunmen stopped the bus and took the driver and the passengers, the Sisters and a seventh traveller, to an undisclosed location.
While the area where the kidnapping occurred is territory fought over by two rival gangs – the Grande Ravine and Village de Dieu gangs – no one has admitted to seizing the Sisters.
Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne condemned “this latest odious and barbaric act that shows no respect for the dignity of these consecrated women who give themselves wholeheartedly and completely to God to educate and form the young, the poorest and the most vulnerable of our society”.
Bishop Dumas called on “all of Haitian society to join hands to form a true circle of solidarity around all the country’s hostages, in order to obtain their release and grant them a swift, safe return to their families and communities”.
He also expressed his willingness to take the Sisters’ place as a hostage.
Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has joined the many international voices calling for the eight captives to be released.
Pope Francis said during yesterday’s (21st January) Angelus: “I have learned with sorrow of the kidnapping, in Haiti, of a group of people, including six religious Sisters.
“In my heartfelt plea for their release, I pray for social concord in the country, and I invite everyone to bring an end to the violence, which is causing a great deal of suffering to that dear population.”
Last December, Archbishop Max Leroys Mesidor of Port-au-Prince told ACN: “In Haiti we will be celebrating Christmas in a context of great suffering, caused especially by the infernal domination of armed groups and the indifference of political actors.
“We hope to see the support of the international community for disarmament and the recovery of our country.”
Church personnel can be at risk in the country.
In June 2022, Sister Luísa Del’Orto, an Italian missionary, was shot dead in Haiti.
Five priests were also kidnapped in the country in 2022 and two in 2023, but they have all since been released.
With thanks to Filipe d’Avillez