ACN joins the Pope in asking for the immediate and unconditional release of the religious sisters from the Congregation of Saint Anne and for an end to the violence that plagues Haiti.
Six religious sisters were kidnapped by armed criminals in Haiti, last Friday, 19 January.
The crime took place in broad daylight, in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The six sisters, who have not been named, were on their way to a university when their bus was stopped by armed bandits. According to international media, the six women and two other occupants of the vehicle, a young woman and the driver, were then taken to an undisclosed location by the criminals.
The sisters belong to the Congregation of Saint Anne, and their kidnapping has been confirmed and lamented both by the local archdiocese and the Haitian Conference of Religious, which represents religious orders in the country.
Haiti has been going through a period of chaos and criminality over the past few years, with armed gangs taking over entire sectors of Port-au-Prince. The Church has also been affected by the insecurity. In 2022, an Italian missionary, Sister Luísa Del’Orto was murdered, and five priests were kidnapped, and in 2023, two priests were kidnapped. All seven priests were eventually released.
ACN joins the many voices, both in Haiti and abroad, who have called for the release of the six sisters and their two companions. These voices include Pope Francis, who mentioned the incident during the Angelus prayer, on Sunday, saying: “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.”
Haiti was one of the countries mentioned by ACN in the article “Ten countries in need of prayers for peace”, published at the end of December. In the section dedicated to the country, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Max Leroys Mesidor, expressed his hope that the new year would see improvement in the situation. “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. But our hope is strong. Let us pray that the feast of Emmanuel should be an opportunity to increase fraternal unity and to find release from our long nights of fear, distrust and violence. We hope to see the support of the international community for disarmament and the recovery of our country.”
The kidnapping of six religious sisters is an inauspicious start to 2024 in Haiti. It also marks the largest mass kidnapping of nuns in recent years. In 2023, a total of four religious sisters were kidnapped globally, three in Nigeria and one in Ethiopia, according to information collected by ACN. In 2022, nine sisters were kidnapped around the world, all of whom were eventually released.