Armed criminals abducted six religious sisters in Haiti on Friday, 19 January, in a brazen act that occurred in broad daylight in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The unnamed sisters were en route to a university when their bus was halted by armed bandits. Reports indicate that the six sisters, along with a young woman and the driver, were subsequently taken to an undisclosed location by the criminals.
The kidnapped sisters are members of the Congregation of Saint Anne, and both the local archdiocese and the Haitian Conference of Religious, representing religious orders in the country, have confirmed and mourned this heinous act.
Haiti has been grappling with a period of chaos and criminality in recent years, with armed gangs seizing control of entire sectors of Port-au-Prince. The Church has not been immune to this insecurity. In 2022, Sister Luísa Del’Orto, an Italian missionary, was murdered, and five priests were kidnapped. In 2023, two additional priests faced kidnapping, though all seven were eventually released.
ACN aligns itself with the numerous voices, both within Haiti and internationally, calling for the release of the six sisters and their two companions. Pope Francis, addressing the incident during the Angelus prayer on Sunday, expressed his sorrow and earnestly appealed for their release. He also prayed for social concord in Haiti and implored everyone to work towards ending the pervasive violence causing immense suffering to the population.
Haiti was previously highlighted by ACN in the article "Ten countries in need of prayers for peace," published at the end of December. The Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Max Leroys Mesidor, expressed hope for improvement in the situation in the new year, emphasizing the need for international support for disarmament and the recovery of the country.
The kidnapping of six religious sisters marks a disheartening start to 2024 in Haiti and represents the largest mass kidnapping of nuns in recent years. In 2023, four religious sisters were kidnapped globally, three in Nigeria and one in Ethiopia, as reported by ACN. In 2022, nine sisters were kidnapped worldwide, all of whom were eventually released.