The president of the Haitian Bishops’ Conference voiced hope that his recent appointment to become a cardinal will raise the profile of the nation, which is still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake.
Bishop Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes is one of 19 men who will be made cardinals at a consistory at the Vatican on Feb. 22. He is the first cardinal ever to be named from Haiti. Pope Francis announced the appointment of the new cardinals on Jan. 12, the four-year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake.
“The appointment this January 12, 2014 will help focus attention on Haiti, especially on our Roman Catholic Church in Haiti, where the realities, the needs and the challenges will be brought up to a much higher level,” Cardinal-designate Langlois said in statements to Alter Presse.
Some analysts suggested that the Pope’s decision to announce the cardinal appointments on the four-year anniversary of the earthquake may have been a sign of special consideration for the devastated country.
The 2010 earthquake killed more than 200,000 people in Haiti and left more than 1 million homeless. It destroyed dozens of churches, including the archdiocesan seminary. Archbishop Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince also perished in the quake.
As president of the Haitian bishops, Cardinal-designate Langlois has worked in recovery efforts. He has also led the Church’s mediation efforts in talks between Haitian President Michel Martelly, the opposition and the parliament, in order to help carve out a path towards rebuilding the country.
The cardinal-designate was born Nov. 29, 1958, in the southeastern city of Vallee. He entered the seminary at Port-au-Prince in 1985, where he studied philosophy and theology.
Ordained a priest on Sept. 22, 1991, he served as vicar of the Cathedral of Jacmel and director of catechesis for the diocese before going on to study pastoral theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
In 1996, Cardinal-designate Langlois was appointed administrator of diocesan pastoral and catechetical formation. Three years later, he was sent to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the region of Des Oranger and was professor of pastoral theology at the Major Seminary of Notre Dame in Turgeau.
He was named Bishop of Fort-Liberte on April 8, 2004, and was ordained to the episcopate by Bishop Hubert Constant on June 6 of the same year. On Aug.15, 2011, after seven years in his first diocese, he was named Bishop of Les Cayes.
That same year, he succeeded Archbishop Louis Kebreau of Cap-Haitien as president of the Haitian Bishops’ Conference.