Cardinal Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes, Haiti, says that local police have failed to protect religious in his city. Langlois says that police are lacking in manpower and have been lax in responding, according to local news reports. CNS photo/Marie Arago,Reuters

Haitian cardinal wants police to boost security for country's religious

By  Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service
  • March 13, 2015

WASHINGTON - Cardinal Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes, Haiti, charged that police have failed to protect religious and priests who have faced a growing number of break-ins, robberies and attacks, including rape.

Addressing hundreds of religious at a vigil March 9 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in Les Cayes, Cardinal Langlois said the perpetrators are operating with impunity, knowing that police have been lax in responding, according to local news reports.

"The police are not doing their job, and the number of police officers is totally inadequate for the region's security," he said to the white-clad participants who gathered to protest the lack of security in their communities.

The religious silently processed through downtown Les Cayes before arriving at the cathedral. Some carried signs reading "We're one family" and "We need security."

The protesters reported that sisters have been raped and thefts from religious residences have occurred in Maniche, north of Les Cayes, and other communities in the South Department.

The incidents have followed a similar pattern, with invaders entering in the pre-dawn hours and shouting and, at times, beating or raping occupants, said Sister Judith Dupuy, a member of the Sisters of St. Anne who is director of the Haitian Apostolate of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts.

A March 5 statement form the Haitian Religious Conference said it was aware of 25 invasions of convents and rectories nationwide since October. The Charismatic Renewal Center in Tabarre, near the capital of Port-Au-Prince, also was a target of thieves, the conference said.

At least 18 congregations and offices were reported to have been affected.

The religious conference called on the local and national governments to step up response to the crimes.

The Haitian bishops' conference has supported the call for greater police action.

Haiti Libre, a web-based news site, reported March 7 that Duly Brutus, minister of foreign affairs and religious affairs, expressed dismay at the attacks.

The government "strongly condemns these reprehensible and harmful acts and informs that the police are actively seeking the authors and accomplices to be arrested and brought to justice to answer for their crimes," Brutus said.

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