Priest shot dead in Haiti

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption Cap-Haitien, Haiti./ Rotorhead 30A Productions/Shutterstock

Father André Sylvestre, 70, was shot to death in Cap-Haitien on Monday, outside a bank where he had just completed a transaction.

The priest was attacked by several persons on motorcycles Sept. 6. According to the Haiti Standard, the attackers did not take the money he was carrying.

Fr. Sylvestre was taken to hospital, but soon thereafter died of his injuries.

The priest was serving at Notre Dame de La Mercie parish.

Haiti has seen a surge of violence in recent years, and the number of kidnappings for ransom has increased in that time.

A criminal gang calling itself “400 Mazowo” kidnapped 10 Catholics, including priests and nuns, on April 11. The kidnap victims were all eventually released weeks later after the Catholic Church openly criticized the government’s “inaction,” and called for all Catholic schools and institutions -- except hospitals and clinics -- to close in protest.

Archbishop Max Leroy Mésidor of Port-au-Prince welcomed their release, but noted that “our contentment will be greater when we see that we live in a country where kidnappings do not exist. Our contentment will be greater when we live in a country where everyone can move where they want, when they want in respect for the law."

The Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince warned in April that gang violence had reached “unprecedented” levels in the country.

“For some time now, we have been witnessing the descent into hell of Haitian society,” the archdiocese stated, as reported by AFP. “The public authorities who are doing nothing to resolve this crisis are not immune from suspicion,” the statement continued, condemning “complacency and complicity.”

Haiti has also been affected by other crises, including natural disasters and a lack of health care infrastructure to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

An earthquake last month killed more than 2,200 people, and the country’s president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in July.

A 2010 earthquake killed 200,000 people and left 1 million people homeless; a decade later, tens of thousands were still living in tent camps.

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