Bishops voice fears over Haiti chaos
Haiti's Catholic bishops' have described the worsening situation in the country as a 'nightmare'.
Archbishop Hubert Constant of Cap Haitian and president of the Haitian Catholic Bishops' Conference told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the number of casualties since the riots broke out on February 10 were mounting, with the worst-hit region, Port-au-Prince, still reporting summary executions, looting and arson.
Archbishop Constant said: "It is difficult to estimate the number of people killed. Some have suggested that about one hundred have died.
"So far there has been around one billion dollars worth of material damage. Our already poverty-stricken country will now have to recover from a double shock. It is a disaster. In the North, around Cap Haitian, twelve people have so far died in riots and public buildings have been plundered and burnt. In the North East, particularly around Fort-LibertÈ, similar violence has created a climate of fear. In other cities, groups of self-proclaimed 'soldiers' are spreading terror. It is a nightmare."
The Archbishop added that at this time of Lent, Haiti's suffering in many ways resembled Christ's suffering. He said: "It is but in faith indeed, that many people can bear this extreme evil and tragedy: violence, hatred, deathIn Christ alone our ope remains."
ACN has worked closely with the Catholic Church in Haiti since 1970, providing both financial and practical support for the Haitian community, 80 per cent of whom are Catholic. Neville Kyrke-Smith, director of ACN, said of the present situation: 'The needs in rebuilding Haiti will be vast, but Aid to the Church in Need will continue to offer practical pastoral help through the bishops and religious orders - as we also rebuild the people's faith and hope.'
When Pope John Paul II visited the island in 1983, he said: "Things must change here". Tragically, little has. Today it ranks as the poorest country in the western hemisphere. While a tiny minority controls almost half the country's national revenue, two-thirds of the population are unemployed. In 2000, the UN declared Haiti to be the third hungriest country in the world.
Source: CCS/ Independent Catholic News