Six religious Sisters from the Sisters of Saint Anne were abducted in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, last Friday by armed assailants, as confirmed by the Haitian Conference of Religious.
The incident occurred while the Sisters, whose identities remain undisclosed, were en route to a university. The armed individuals halted the bus, taking the driver, the Sisters, and an additional passenger to an undisclosed location.
The area where the kidnapping took place is contested by two rival gangs – the Grande Ravine and Village de Dieu gangs. However, no group has claimed responsibility for the abduction.
Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne strongly condemned the act, expressing outrage at the lack of respect for the dignity of the consecrated women dedicated to educating and shaping the lives of the young, poor, and vulnerable in society.
Bishop Dumas urged the entire Haitian society to unite in solidarity to secure the release of all hostages, including the Sisters. In a remarkable gesture, he also volunteered to take the Sisters' place as a hostage.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic charity, has joined the international chorus urging the release of the eight captives. Pope Francis, during the Angelus on January 21st, expressed sorrow over the kidnapping, specifically mentioning the six religious Sisters. He called for their release, prayed for social harmony in Haiti, and appealed to end the prevailing violence causing suffering to the population.
Archbishop Max Leroys Mesidor of Port-au-Prince, speaking to ACN in December, highlighted the significant challenges faced by Haiti, emphasizing the impact of armed groups and the indifference of political actors. He called for international support for disarmament and the country's recovery.
Highlighting the risks faced by Church personnel in Haiti, the tragic death of Sister Luísa Del’Orto, an Italian missionary, occurred in June 2022. Additionally, five priests were kidnapped in 2022, and two in 2023; however, all have been released since then. The situation underscores the broader security concerns within the country.