Haitian Leadership within the Catholic Church


As the number of foreign catholic missionaries continue to dramatically dwindle in Haiti, it’s only fitting that more Haitians are now at the Helm of the church. This is particularly true in rural areas where most parishes are today run by Haitian priests. It is encouraging and interesting to see fellow Haitians gradually take charge of such an important institution in the country. We’re talking about the backbone of our education, a remarkable presence in our architecture and development.

Many successful Haitians, catholic or not, are products of the catholic system. Some of the best primary schools in the country are built and managed by the Catholic Church. This article will not address the dogmatic and moral teachings of the church. It will not reveal another scandal or political affiliation nor will it ignore the theological brilliance and merit of leaders like Bishop Chibly Langlois who recently became Haiti’s first Cardinal. Instead, it will address the fading influence of the Catholic Church on our society today.

As Haitian leadership rises within the church, Catholic infrastructures tend to decline throughout the country. Many churches and schools are losing their physical uniqueness and charm. “Université Notre-Dame d’Haiti” still stands on its own. While “St-Louis de Gonzague”, “Sacre-coeur” and others continue to ship talents overseas (unfortunately), the countryside still lacks schools of similar quality. New churches are being built, but the traits of construction are far less appealing. It’s still hot and uncomfortable as hell inside “Altagrace”.

For years now, the priests in the religious community have been predominantly Haitian yet the implications of the church in our economic development still remain stagnant or disappearing. Is it fair to link the recent disinterest in economic achievement to the rise of “Haitianism” in the church? One thing is certain: Either it is becoming harder and harder for Haitian parishes to raise funds or the church has been hit by the Haitian-Politics virus. Both cases however, should raise some concern about Haitian leadership in general. Administratively, the church has taken a step back. This is alarming because a majority of our population profess to be Catholics. It is ethically responsible for the church to assure the future of its congregation. The progress of the church – at least the innovation of its infrastructures, education system — mirrors hope for millions.

It is inappropriate to praise or blame Catholicism for the current state of our country since they do not firmly define their public actions. Sustainability is something we lack as a people. Haiti needs the Catholic Church to continuously do well; without and with Haitian leaders. The papacy has been very vocal lately on social problems, corruption, poverty and the role of the church in economic development. Let’s hope the catholic model in Haiti can inspire the Haitian congress and not the other way around.


Marc Evenst Jn Jacques
Mechanical Engineering, University of Florida


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