Catholic Church In Haiti To Boycott State Holidays
Jul. 29, 1985
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ Haiti's Roman Catholic Church said it suspects the government of persecuting it and no longer will offer special Masses on state holidays.
The announcement was signed by Archbishop Francois-Wolff Ligonde of Port- au-Prince and six bishops, and distributed Sunday in the churches of this Caribbean nation. It also called for a day of fasting and prayer for the Haitian church on Friday.
The statement by the Haitian Episcopal Conference referred to the deportation last week of three Belgian priests, and ''bitter and virulent'' editorials against the church in the government-owned news media.
''Facing this state of affairs, the Haitian Episcopal Conference wonders, perplexed, whether the church in Haiti is not confronting a situation of persecution,'' it said.
The government announced the expulsions last Wednesday. One of the three priests was the director of a Catholic radio station that had been critical of Haiti's referendum July 22.
The referendum, in which the government claimed 99.9 percent endorsement of a package of changes proposed by President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier, was denounced by dissidents as fraudulent.
Most Catholic priests in Haiti had read a pastoral letter critical of the referendum during Mass on the eve of the voting.
In its statement issued Sunday, the Episcopal Conference said the Rev. Hugo Triest, director of Radio Soleil, was given 24 hours to leave the country and parish priests Jean Hostens and Yvan Polleyfet were given 48 hours.
It said the expulsions were not brought before a joint church-state commission formed to deal with conflicts. ''All the steps taken by the Haitian Episcopal Conference, all the interventions by the Holy See have been in vain,'' the bishops said.
Priests will no longer offer Masses on state holidays, including the anniversaries of Haitian independence and the swearing-in of the president, the statement said.
The church in Haiti has become increasingly outspoken since the visit in 1982 by Pope John Paul II, in which he spoke out on poverty and human rights. After the visit, the Vatican rescinded the the 19th century concordat giving Haiti the right to name its archbishop and bishops.
The government newspaper Le Nouveau Monde printed a front-page editorial in its Friday edition criticizing church interference in the ''internal affairs of the country.''