Cablegate: Haiti: Holy See Worried About Violence, Seeks

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 005164



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2013



Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Brent Hardt for reason 1.5 (b) and (d)


1. (C) Vatican MFA Caribbean Affairs Office Director Giorgio
Lingua said November 7 that the Holy See is "very worried"
about the situation in Haiti. He expressed concern about the
disruption of an October 16 mass (ref a and b), and noted the
potential for violence in the coming weeks (ref d). Acting
Foreign Minister Pietro Parolin emphasized in a November 13
meeting the difficult balancing act that Vatican and
Episcopal leadership in Haiti must perform in pressing for
reform while avoiding instigating further violence. He noted
in this regard that the Haitian Episcopal Conference had
signed on to the protest letter to the Haitian Government
sent by the papal nuncio after the October 16 disturbance
(ref b). According to Lingua, the Haitian Catholic Church is
struggling in general, with many people leaving the Church
due to disillusionment with its handling of the Aristide
crisis. Though he acknowledged the challenges Aristide
presented to those seeking reform, Lingua thought that
pressure for increased democratic expression might be
effective if it did not threaten Aristide's legitimacy. End

The Vatican's Concern

2. (C) MFA Caribbean Affairs Office Director Giorgio Lingua
told poloff November 7 that the Holy See is "very worried"
about the situation in Haiti, following the disruption of the
October 16 papal anniversary mass (ref a, b) and continuing
violent incidents. Lingua told us a Haitian MFA
representative had called Papal Nuncio Luigi Bonazzi to
express his regret for the incident at mass, but said that to
his knowledge Aristide himself had not contacted any Vatican
representative to comment on the incident. Lingua expressed
some satisfaction with news that Aristide had spoken to
opposition leader Evans Paul after the incident, as the
post-mass mugging of Evans Paul was also troubling to the
Vatican. The Holy See remains concerned about the potential
for more violence in the lead-up to the bicentennial
anniversary of the Battle of Vertieres on November 18 (ref d).

A Church Balancing, Divided

3. (C) According to Lingua, Aristide,s exploitation of some
clergy members for propaganda purposes was taking its toll on
the Haitian population. Lingua said Haitians see "a Church
divided," with some clergy supporting the Lavalas party and
others against it. Lingua claimed this lack of solidarity
fostered disillusionment to the point where people were
leaving the Church in increasing numbers.

4. (C) When asked if the October 16 incident might prompt the
Holy See to raise its voice more forcefully against
Aristide's abuses, Lingua was noncommittal, saying the
Vatican needed to balance pressure on Aristide against a
delicate security situation on the ground. Similarly, he
said the Haitian bishops needed to tread lightly, as
Aristide's unpredictable nature made such expression

dangerous. Holy See Acting Foreign Minister Pietro Parolin
reiterated this point in a November 13 meeting with the
Charge, while also noting that the bishops had signed on to
Nuncio Bonazzi's protest letter to the GOH. According to
Lingua, the bishops "realize they should speak louder," but
have to pick their spots carefully.

Episcopal Leadership

5. (C) Lingua told us the newly-appointed archbishop of Cap
Haitien, Hubert Constant, was similarly in a difficult
position. Lingua said (protect) Constant had a "good spirit
and pastoral character, but is conditioned by the presence --
in fact the omnipresence -- of Aristide." Deputy FM Parolin
was somewhat more positive on Constant, noting his role in
protesting the October 16 incident. On leadership in
Port-au-Prince, Parolin confirmed that Coadjutor Bishop Serge
Miot would succeed Archbishop Ligonde as head of the
archdiocese when Archbishop Ligonde retires formally. He
also denied that Miot was too close to the Aristide camp,
asserting that Miot, too, had played a role the post-October
16 protest.

Comment: Where to go?

6. (C) Despite Lingua's rather somber assessment of the
situation, he said the Holy See believes there are some
glimmers of hope for progress Haiti. He said the Vatican had
noticed signs of increased discontent within the Lavalas
party that could contribute to prospects for future reform.
The best bet, he believed, was for further international
pressure, especially from the United States, for increased
democratic expression within the country -- without directly
challenging Aristide's legitimacy. This tracks with the
conservative approach we have seen from the Holy See in such
situations. The Vatican is far more likely to take the
long-term view than to invite confrontation -- or encourage
local bishops to do so.

7. (C) When looking at the big picture, Lingua said,
effecting change in Haiti should be easier than in Cuba.
Unlike Castro, Lingua observed, Aristide is not ideologically
motivated. "This is one person -- not a system," he added.
Citing the effects on the U.S. of Haitian drug trafficking
and illegal immigration, Lingua acknowledged the USG interest
in Haiti, even beyond its humanitarian concerns. Lingua
noted with interest the arrival of Ambassador Foley in
Port-au-Prince; consequently we passed him a copy of the
Ambassador's ref E press statement.


© Scoop Media

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