PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (LifeSiteNews) — A Haitian bishop in the ecclesiastical province of Port-au-Prince offered to become a hostage in the place of six religious sisters who were kidnapped on Friday and are being held for ransom.
Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne called for the sisters’ release after unidentified gunmen reportedly intercepted a bus in downtown Port-au-Prince and took all the passengers and the driver hostage.
“This odious and barbaric act shows no respect for the dignity of consecrated women who give themselves wholeheartedly and completely to educate and form the young, the poorest, and the most vulnerable members of our society,” Bishop Dumas said regarding the sisters, who belong to the St. Anne congregation.
“Please take me in their place. I’m ready!” said Dumas, according to Vatican News.
He called the kidnapping “inhuman,” adding that “one day, God will ask for an account.”
The bishops of Haiti are reportedly calling on the government to take action to protect its citizens, who have been increasingly subject to what the bishops have decried as a “reign of terror” by local gangs.
Kidnappings have skyrocketed in the country since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, with criminal gangs “emboldened” amid the resulting chaos, the Jamaica Observer reported.
According to the United Nations, at least 2,500 people have died in Haiti along with 902 people injured and 951 kidnapped from January until August 2023.
The nonprofit Assessment Capacities Project estimated that gangs have taken over about 80 percent of the area of Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital.
Last October, the UN Security Council voted to send a multinational armed force led by Kenya to Haiti to help reign in violent gangs. A small advance contingent of Kenyan police is expected to arrive early this year. It will mark the first time in almost 20 years that a force would be deployed to the turbulent country.
“The multinational mission’s deployment in Haiti could bring essential relief to a country mired in strife. But bumps in the road ahead pose a major threat to the force’s effectiveness,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) speculated in a report.
Anti-government demonstrations have also been causing unrest across the country over the past several days, with protestors calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who took power after the assassination of President Moïse in 2021. They are criticizing him for insufficiently dealing with Haiti’s safety and economic problems.