July 26, 1985
The Episcopal Conference of Haiti raises the strongest protest against the expulsion of the three Belgian missionaries from the Missionhurst congregation: Fathers Hugo Trieste, Director of Radio Soleil, Jan Hostens, the rector of Port-a-Racquettes (La Gonave) and Yvon Pollefeyt, the rector of Montrouis.
A communique dated July 24, 1985, released by the State Ministers of the Interior and National Defense, Justice, and the Minister of Cults, read over national television at 9:30 p.m., informed the public of the revocation of their residency permits. Father Hugo Triest had 24 hours to leave the national territory, and the others 48 hours.
The Episcopal Conference of Haiti affirms complete disagreement with the expedited procedure used and the total lack of dialogue with the people concerned: the religious superiors and bishops of Haiti.
On July 22, 1985, Father Hugo Triest was physically harrassed by police on the street on the pretext that he had a car accident. Taken in a military manner to the Department of Traffic Control, he was humiliated and then released without having been informed of the reason for his arrest. The next day, ordered to the Department of the Interior, he excused himself for not being able to come because his superiors were not informed beforehand, according to the rules of canonical law.
Concerning Father Jan Hostens, accusations were brought against him in a letter of April 8. 1985, signed by the Minister of Cults. The local Ordinary met with Father Hostens twice: on April 30 and June 24, 1985. The priest had declared with proof that these accusations were pure inventions of the head of the local tax collection agency who is at the same time Chief of the Volunteers for National Security of Port-a-Racquettes. The local Ordinary gave the priest the usual recommendations for avoiding any conflict.
Father Yvon Pollefeyt was reproached for his homily of April 25, 1985 on the Feast of St. Marc. The local Ordinary, after having complaints formulated against him by the Minister of Cults, took the measures specified in the code of canon law. The Minister of Cults was informed; the case was considered closed.
A mixed commission, established between the Episcopal Conference of Haiti and the Haitian Chancellory - composed of 2 Bishops, the Minister of Cults, and another Minister appointed according to the subject in question - charged with overseeing the church-state relationship, was not called together to study the reasons for revoking the priests' residency permits and the accusations brought against them. All the inquiries of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, and the interventions of the Holy See, were in vain.
We ask ourselves why these exceptional means were used. We ask ourselves, why the malicious editorials of Radio National and the noxious articles in the governmental daily paper against the Catholic Church, while the same media often expresses hope for good relations between the Church and the State.
Faced with this state of affairs, the Episcopal Conference of Haiti asks itself perplexedly if the Church of Haiti is not confronted with a situation of persecution. Faced with this, we invite the people of God to observe a day of fasting and prayer Friday, August 2, 1985, for the intentions of the Church of Haiti.
With the release of this note the Episcopal Conference of Haiti has decided, in conformity with the spirit of liturgical renewal, that the rectors and parish administrators in all the dioceses of Haiti will celebrate TE DEUM and thanksgiving mass and requiem only on the following occasions: Independance Day, Agriculture and Labor Day, Flag and University Day, the anniversary of the death of Dessalines, the anniversary of the Battle of Vertieres, and the anniversary of the day of the President's inauguration.
Released at the headquarters of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti on the Feast of Saint Anne and Saint Joachim.