On July 7, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home, reportedly by a cadre of Columbian ex-military security professionals whose motives remain unexplained.
The assassination came after months of political and social chaos in Haiti, including a surge of violence which had thrown its capital, Port-Au-Prince, into open conflict between police and armed gangs.
Moïse, who controversially remained in office after most authorities said his term as president had ended, was at the center of the country’s civic unrest. Nevertheless, the president’s death has led to further confusion in the Haiti, including basic uncertainty about who has a legitimate claim to power and when an election can next take place.
Amid that chaos, Fr. Louis Merosne, rector of the Cathedral of St. Anne in Anse-à-Veau, has worked to continue pastoral ministry and works of mercy for the people of his cathedral.
Fr. Merosne talked with The Pillar about the challenges and joys of pastoral ministry in a country on the brink of disaster, and about what solidarity between American and Haitian Catholics might really look like.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Father Merosne, how have Haitians, and especially your parishioners, reacted to the president’s death?
We have had for the past week a state of siege, and many, many stories about what is actually happening, and it’s not at all clear what is happening or what the government will be able to do.
The political situation is, of course, a recipe for chaos. If we can’t agree on who’s in charge, then that’s a problem.
People are traumatized. People are shocked. And there are several ways that people have been reacting.
After the president’s death was announced, everyone was shocked, of course. The supporters of the president and those who didn’t support him were shocked — because it’s a human being that was killed.
It’s kind of beautiful to see that even people who seemed like they hated this guy’s guts respond to say: ‘Oh, no, heck no, this is not acceptable.’ And so that’s a hopeful sign, in its own way.
It’s funny, some who were interviewed were asked what they think, and one guy was like: ‘I hated his guts, but the fact that foreigners are going to come onto our soil to kill our president — Heck no, that is not going to be taken lightly. You don’t get to do that.’
On the other hand, some supporters are even going as far as calling him a martyr, and they have drawings of him as an angel in heaven.
Others are saying: ‘Well, this is sad. This is not acceptable, but this is one of many unacceptable deaths in Haiti. This is one of thousands of unacceptable deaths.’
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