ROME – On Monday, the Haitian bishops announced that Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne was wounded in an explosion in the country’s capital, marking the latest act of violence in a spiral that has been plaguing Haiti for years.

In a Feb. 19 communique, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Haiti (CEH) announced that Dumas the day before had been injured “by an explosion which reached the house where he was staying” while he was visiting the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

“For the moment, Dumas’ health is stable. We entrust him to your fervent prayers for a speedy recovery,” the statement, signed by vice permanent secretary of the CEH Father Jean Rodney Brevil, said, wishing faithful a fruitful Lenten season.

Following news of the attack, the Mexican bishops conference issued a statement of solidarity with Haiti’s bishops and citizens, saying, “We are aware of the difficult situation of violence and insecurity that Haiti is suffering.”

“We admire the strength and firmness of the pastors of the Haitian church who, despite the terroristic acts they have suffered, do not give up on their evangelical mission,” they said.

In the Feb. 19 statement, signed by the president of the Mexican bishops’ conference Archbishop Rogelio Cabrra Lopez of Monterrey, and its secretary general, Bishop Ramon Castro Castro of Cuernavaca, the bishops expressed their closeness to Dumas as he recovers.

“We firmly condemn this act of violence, as well as any other terrorist action that is an attack against life and human dignity,” they said, saying they are joining their Haitian counterparts in prayer “so that times of peace, justice, and reconciliation will soon arrive for the people of Haiti.”

“Count on our prayers and on our commitment in continuing to work together as a Church for a future of hope,” they said.

The Sunday explosion that injured Dumas is the latest in a wave of violent attacks and kidnappings that have plagued Haiti for the past three years, since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021.

Moise, who faced broad political opposition, made the controversial decision to extend his tenure for one year, which led to mass upheaval and protests.

His assassination sparked a widespread political crisis, followed shortly by the outbreak of gang violence in many parts of the country, and mass protests in 2022 over rising energy prices and an increased cost of living.

Currently, it is estimated that roughly three quarters of Port-au-Prince is dominated by criminal groups and organizations.

According to a report from the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BIUH), from October to December of last year, 2,327 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in Haiti, and more than 8,400 people were victims of such violence through all of 2023.

Church personnel have regularly found themselves targets of violent attacks and kidnappings for ransom.

In January, six Catholic nuns and one other hostage were abducted and released a few days later in Haiti. In 2021, five priests and two nuns were held hostage by a gang for three weeks before finally being released.

A year later, Italian nun Sister Luisa Dell’Orto was murdered during an armed attack in Port-au-Prince.

In January 2023, a Brazilian inter-congregational mission, established in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to assist malnourished children and their mothers, was attacked by gang members. Their equipment and car were stolen, prompting the closure of the mission shortly after.

The United Nations in October 2023 approved of a Kenya-led peacekeeping mission to Haiti, however, that mission has been stalled by bureaucratic hurdles and remains on hold.

In a Jan. 8 statement on the status of the situation in Haiti, the country’s bishops asked God to intervene, and called on national authorities to “to put an immediate end to the suffering of the people.”

They referred to mass protests that erupted a day prior, on Feb. 7, with demonstrators seeking the removal of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel in compliance with a political agreement forged in 2022. The protests paralyzed the country after turning violent, leaving five people dead.

In their statement, the bishops said the people had made their desires known during the protests, and lamented that “Blood and tears have flown too much through the assassinations, kidnappings, and violence perpetrated in the past three years.”

“We have suffered enough! Close the blood valve and stop counting the dead!” they said.

The bishops said they themselves are witnesses of the “misery and suffering of our fellow citizens,” and called on Henry to consider “the seriousness of the current situation and make a wise decision for the good of the entire nation, which is gravely threatened in its foundations.”

They offered condolences to the families of the five people who died on Jan. 7, and asked Haitian citizens “to not fall into the trap of violence and the fratricidal fights that disregard our dignity, disfigure our humanity, and dishonor the image of our country.”

“Let’s mobilize all of our energies, let’s unite, and let’s commit ourselves, together, decidedly, without violence, in the path that will lead us to the new Haiti that we all desire,” they said.

After the Feb. 7 protests, Henry refused to step down, saying in a national address the next day that he could not do so since the government first needed to ensure conditions were safe enough to hold an election.

The CEH has offered no further update on Dumas’s condition, or when he is expected to return to his duties.

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