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Haïti – Kidnapping of Father Whatner Aupont Highlights Haitian Crisis

According to Msgr. Launay Saturné, Archbishop of Cap-Haïtien, a wave of riots and kidnappings is causing a breakdown of national life in Haiti.

On Thursday, April 28, a group of heavily armed bandits kidnapped several people, including Father Whatner Aupont, priest of St. Joseph the Worker’s church at Grande Ravine in the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne. The kidnapping took place near Croix-des-Bouquets, an area on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince.

Father Whatner’s diocese of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne lies in the newly created department of Nippes, in the southwestern part of the country.  Representatives of the diocese immediately made an appeal to the police to carry out its duty of “protecting and serving” the people of Haiti and helping to set Father Whatner free. The following day, the diocese gave thanks for the release of the priest at Croix-des-Bouquets and asked for prayers for the liberation of other people who were still in the hands of the kidnappers.

In a statement to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Msgr. Launay Saturné said that the socio-political and economic situation of the country is becoming more and more complex.

“The deterioration of the situation in the country is due to the multiplication of armed gangs, the constant kidnappings, the ubiquitous insecurity, inflation—especially in the rise of prices for essential goods—bloody incidents, and a flood of upheavals and acts of cruelty.”

The archbishop told ACN that people would like to go about their business but were terribly afraid. “Nobody knows how long this troubled situation—this political instability and insecurity—is going to last. Many sectors and institutions of national life have become fragile and almost non-existent. No one is spared from this insecurity. We are all exposed.”

In its statement, the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne also implored the help of St. Joseph and of Mary “in the face of this new plague of kidnappings which is destroying health, lives, families, and the economy and social structures of our beloved Republic of Haiti.” It adds that those who hold political power should “prove their ability to protect lives and goods, in respect of the Constitution of human rights.”

In 2021, ACN supported around 70 projects in Haiti at a cost of more than 2.1 million dollars. Among these were projects to help train priests and lay people, and to provide the vehicles required for their pastoral work.

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