News 16 Apr 2024

Seminary looted and vandalized, as security situation worsens in Haiti

Seminary looted and vandalised, as security situation worsens in Haiti

A seminary operated by the Spiritan missionaries in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince was attacked by armed gangsters. The religious and staff had to hide for six hours while the premises was looted, before managing to escape to safety.

The Minor Seminary of Saint-Martial, run by the Spiritan missionaries in Port-au-Prince, capital city of Haiti, was attacked on the evening of Monday, 1 April, by armed bandits who climbed over the walls of the building. After overpowering the guards, the criminals went about destroying or stealing everything they could find. For over six hours, the religious who were present at the seminary, as well as staff members, had to hide inside one of the buildings.

In a message sent to pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the provincial of the Spiritans described the attack in detail. “For over six hours the bandits continued to plunder, burn and steal. Finally, the religious and the staff members managed to escape. Some of them took refuge in the Formation house, a 30-minute walk from the seminary, and others in the streets, or in the cathedral, beside the school”, said Fr Raynold Joseph. 

Fortunately, the priest continued, “there were no physical victims of the attack, but the material damage is considerable: four cars were burned, others were vandalised, the school’s offices were set ablaze, the principle’s office was looted, as was the residence of the community and the school itself”, with items such as “refrigerators, solar panels, batteries, a water purification system, mattresses and IT equipment”, being stolen. 

The Spiritan library, which Fr Raynold describes as “national heritage”, was left untouched, but the priest fears that the bandits might return to cause more damage. “It is likely that there will be more intrusions in the next hours or days unless the school is somehow protected. We are devastated and remain very concerned with the continued worsening of the situation in our country. We appreciate your fraternal support through thoughts and prayers”, the provincial added. 

Haiti is going through a very serious situation, which continues to be followed closely, and with concern, by ACN. As the country spirals into the chaos of a failed state, armed gangs have largely taken over Port-au-Prince. Despite the fact that it continues to provide essential services to the most needy members of society, the Church has not been spared by the violence due to the gangs, who have attacked Church property and kidnapped religious. On one occasion a bishop was badly wounded in an explosion, although it is unclear if he was the intended victim, or if he was simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time. 

Pope Francis has also expressed his concern for the country, most recently during his Easter Sunday message, on 31 March, where called for “international solidarity” with the Caribbean nation. 

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