THE Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, has written to the diocese of Haiti after the assassination of the country’s president on Wednesday.
Bishop Curry’s pastoral letter quotes from the Epistle of St James: “The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective.” He goes on: “My brothers and sisters, we are praying for you. We are mindful of those simply trying to live their lives in peace and wholeness and to raise their children in safety. We are mindful of the needs of all the people in Haiti.”
President Jovenel Moïse was shot dead in an overnight attack in his private residence in Port-au-Prince. His wife, Martine, was injured and is receiving treatment. The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has called on Haitians to “preserve the constitutional order, remain united in the face of this abhorrent act and reject all violence”.
Last month, the lead UN official in Haiti, Helen La Lime, briefed the Security Council on the worsening socio-economic conditions in the country, rising gang violence, the resurgence of Covid-19, and the “ever-growing polarisation of Haitian politics”, noting that: “the deep-rooted political crisis which has gripped the country for the better part of the last four years shows no sign of abating.”
Mr Moïse was elected in 2016. Recent years have seen mass protests generated by inflation and a decline in living standards, gang attacks, and the President’s refusal to hold an election this year. He had been planning to change the constitution to allow the president to run for two consecutive five-year terms.
Pope Francis issued a telegram to the Apostolic Nuncio in Haiti offering his condolences on hearing news of the “heinous” assassination, and stating that he was praying for the repose of the soul of Mr Moïse. He condemned “all forms of violence as a means of resolving crises and conflicts”, and expressed his hope for “a future of fraternal harmony, solidarity and prosperity”.
The country’s RC bishops said that the event marked “an unfortunate turning point in our history as a people”, and was the result of “the deliberate choice of violence by many sectors of the population as a method of survival and resolution of disputes”. They warned: “Violence can only generate violence and lead to hatred. It will never help our country get out of this political impasse.”
Four men alleged to have carried out the shooting have been killed by the police. A further two have been arrested.