VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis called on Sunday (Jan 21) for the release of a group of people including six nuns kidnapped in Haiti, the Caribbean nation plagued by gang violence.
“I learned with pain of the news of the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of people, among them six religious sisters,” the pontiff said at the end of his weekly Angelus prayer at the Vatican.
“In earnestly asking for their release, I pray for social harmony in the country.
“I invite everyone to stop the violence that causes so much suffering to that dear population.”
According to the Haitian Religious Conference, the country’s association of religious orders, eight people including six nuns were kidnapped on Friday while travelling on a bus in the capital Port-au-Prince.
The incident comes amid an increase in kidnappings in Haiti, the poorest state in the Americas facing a spiralling security crisis.
Pope Francis, 87, also made reference on Sunday to the situation in Ecuador, another country battling gang violence.
As he addressed the crowd in St Peter’s Square to hear his prayer, the pontiff called out to “the bishops and migrants of Ecuador, to whom I assure my prayers for peace in their country”.
Ecuador, once considered a bastion of peace in Latin America, has been plunged into crisis by the rapid spread of transnational cartels that use its ports to ship drugs to the United States and Europe.