Haiti’s bishops announce year of prayer amidst political crisis
Amidst political instability and calls for President Jovenel Moise to resign, Haiti’s Catholic bishops have announced a year of prayer and adoration for the country.
“The misery has become so sharp and the insecurity so destabilizing that the tree of hope has been torn from the ground,” the bishops said.
In a passionate address, the bishops emphasised the importance of prayer. “Hasn’t the Lord always listened to the voice of His people crying for him? Aren’t we His people, His flock?”, they said.
Due to widespread instability and corruption, violent protests have been taking place in Haiti throughout 2019.
As a result, schools and businesses have been forced to close down, whilst roadblocks preventing the distribution of food, water and medication have been erected.
Between January and March 2019, almost 240 patients arrived at a major health centre in Martissant after being shot.
The controversy centres around Venezuela’s PetroCaribe programme, created before its economic collapse, through which it lent oil to nearby countries, with payments deferred for up to 25 years.
Haiti joined the programme in 2006, and the money it saved was intended to be used to improve education, infrastructure and health care.
However, an official audit report found $2bn missing, causing taxpayers to be indebted to Venezuela and lacking the promised benefits and social improvements.
The report suggests that President Moise also embezzled funds before taking office in 2017, a claim he denies, adding that he will not resign from office before his term ends in 2022.
The bishops of Haiti referred to an “evil endemic corruption” which is “gangrenous for the country.” In response, the upcoming year will be specifically dedicated to praying for hope and an eradication of corruption.
Specific “great celebrations of worship” will take place within each diocese. The bishops called on the people of Haiti to pray fervently, both individually and corporately, and encouraged them “to consecrate and restore to God the destiny of our country and our people.”
The year of prayer and adoration will end on May 31 2020, the feast of Pentecost.
Picture: A priest carries a monstrance during a Corpus Christi procession in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, June 20, 2019. (CNS photo/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters)