The six Haitian religious sisters who were abducted on the morning of Jan. 19 in Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince were released Thursday morning. 

The release of the six nuns, along with their two drivers, was confirmed to Vatican News by Archbishop Max Leroy Mésidor, the president of Haiti’s bishops’ conference, on Thursday. The nuns belonged to the St. Anne Congregation.

“We give thanks to God! Thank you for your support,” the bishop said to Vatican News. 

“This traumatic event has once again put our faith to the test, but it remains unshakable,” Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau-Miragoâne said. 

“We cried out to God. He made us strong in our trials and brought our captives back to freedom,” Dumas continued. 

The Haitian outlet Rezo Nodwes reported that those responsible for the kidnapping had initially demanded a sum of $3 million in exchange for the release of the nuns and their driver. 

It is not yet clear on what conditions, if any, the hostages were released. 

The Bishops’ Conference of Haiti issued a statement on Jan. 22 denouncing the “heinous and criminal act” and the widespread violence that has gripped the capital city and the country. 

“These acts cause consternation among all citizens of goodwill; they dishonor their authors and tarnish the image of our country afflicted with so many repeated evils,” the statement read. 

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The bishops went on to demand that the hostages be “unconditionally released” and demanded that those responsible “stop trampling on the inalienable dignity of God’s children.” 

“We call on the responsibility of leaders and remind them of their moral duty to ensure the security and protection of the lives and property of all citizens. On many occasions, the Church has denounced their silence, which amounts to an attitude of contempt for the suffering of the people,” the statement continued. 

The release of the hostages comes after Pope Francis made a plea on their behalf during last Sunday’s Angelus

“I have learned with sorrow of the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of people, including six religious sisters,” the pope said on Jan. 21

“In my heartfelt plea for their release, I pray for social concord in the country. And I invite everyone to bring an end to the violence, which is causing a great deal of suffering to that beloved population,” the Holy Father continued. 

On Jan. 24 the Haitian Bishops’ Conference along with the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince held a prayer vigil for the release of the hostages.

Haiti has been in the throes of political instability and rampant violence, including rape, killings, and mass kidnappings, since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, 2021, left a power vacuum in the already-fragile Caribbean country. 

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Moïse faced charges of corruption and incompetence as well as calls to step down from opposition parties since his five-year term expired on Feb. 7, 2021. However, he refused to vacate the office, noting that the first year of his term coincided with an interim government. 

The capital city of Port-au-Prince has been the epicenter of widespread gang violence. According to a 2023 United Nations report, an estimated 80% of the capital is under gang control. The situation has deteriorated since acting Prime Minister and President Ariel Henry assumed office on July 20, 2021, on the basis that some, including Haiti’s most powerful gang leader, Jimmy Cherizier, say that Henry lacks a political mandate.