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Pope Francis Prays For Assassinated Haiti President

In his telegram of condolences following the assassination of the President of Haiti, Pope Francis condemns all forms of violence as a means of resolving crises and conflicts.

In a telegram addressed to the Apostolic Nuncio in Haiti, Pope Francis said “Upon hearing the news of the heinous assassination of His Excellency Mr. Jovenel Moïse, President of Haiti,” he offers his condolences “to the Haitian people and to his wife, who was also seriously wounded and whose life he commends to God.”

53-year-old Moïse was fatally shot and his wife was injured when attackers stormed their home early on Wednesday. First Lady Martine Moïse has been flown to Florida where she is said to be in a critical but stable condition and is receiving treatment. (Read: PH Bishops Mourn Death of Brunei’s First Cardinal)

In the telegram, signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Pope, the Holy Father said he is praying for the repose of the soul of the deceased.

Condemnation of violence 

Expressing his sadness he condemned “all forms of violence as a means of resolving crises and conflicts,” wishing for the Haitian people “a future of fraternal harmony, solidarity and prosperity.” (Read: Bishops in Myanmar Urge Military to End Violence, Start Dialogue)

Haitian bishops decry the violence

Pope Francis listens to Haitian President Jovenel Moise (left) while his wife Martine Marie Etienne Joseph smiles during a private audience on Jan 26, 2018, at the Vatican. (Photo from AFP/UCA News)

The Catholic Bishops of Haiti have also condemned the assassination describing it as despicable and unacceptable.

In a note soon after the assassination, they said the sad “event marks an unfortunate turning point in our history as a people”, adding that it is, unfortunately, a result of  “the deliberate choice of violence by many sectors of the population as a method of survival and resolution of disputes.”

Concluding they called for reconciliation and dialogue saying “Violence can only generate violence and lead to hatred. It will never help our country get out of this political impasse.”

Developments in Haiti

Haitian police said they killed four suspects and arrested two others following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. His killing brings more political turmoil to a country that’s long been roiled by lawlessness and economic woes. (Photo from Joseph Odelyn/Associated Press/Wall Street Journal)

Meanwhile, four assassins who allegedly shot dead Haiti’s President and critically wounded his wife at their home in the capital Port Au Prince, have themselves been killed by Police, while two more have been arrested.  

Haiti’s Police Chief Leon Charles says his officers shot dead four gunmen and detained two more after they took three of his men hostage. More members of the assassination group are being sought. No names or nationalities are yet being made public.

President Jovenel Moise was assassinated by gunmen who falsely claimed to be Drugs Enforcement Agents. His wife Martine was shot multiple times but has survived. In critical condition, she`s been airlifted to Miami and is fighting for her life in hospital. (Read: Pope Receives Crucifix Made From Remains of Lebanon Blast)

Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who’s declared a State of Siege, is describing the gunmen as mercenaries. He`s condemned their actions as “hateful, inhumane and barbaric.” He’s claiming that the situation is under control. Nevertheless, the neighboring Dominican Republic has closed its border with Haiti. 

Law and order crisis

A protester holds a sign with a message to stop supporting gangs during a protest demanding the resignation of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince in December. (Photo from Dieu Nalio Chery/AP/The Guardian)

President Moise started his term in 2017. He should have stood down in February. The United Nations called for free and fair elections, but in spite of widespread protest demonstrations, they’ve yet to happen. A law and order crisis has developed and significantly worsened. Earlier this year, clergy and some of their relatives were kidnapped by a street gang, who demanded a ransom. 

This outrage, which appears to have been carefully and ruthlessly planned, has struck right at the heart of Haiti’s fragile democracy, which was already hanging by a thread. 

Text by Linda Bordoni & James Blears of Vatican News

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