Dominican Republic’s Catholic leadership disagrees on embattled priests
Nov 18, 2005
The leadership of the Dominican Catholic church today issued contradictory statements regarding the work of three controversial foreign priests, with two of them already having committed the crime of forgery by declaring Haitians as Dominican born citizens.
(Dominican Today, November 03, 2005) SANTO DOMINGO. – While Santo Domingo archbishop Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez condemned that priests who have committed forgery against the Dominican Republic and considers abusive the attempt by some organizations to lead a campaign so that the country is condemned for supposed abuses against Haitians, the Dominican Bishop’s Conference stated that those prelates "were faced with a sad, harsh, unjust, disordered reality and have tried to do good for these people."
Cardinal Lopez said that it is an abuse and an audacity that priests as well as Haitian defense organizations make denunciations abroad.
"I don’t agree with that, that is an abuse, an audacity of who does it, priest or not, it is necessary to respect this country and the one that comes here to working can neither go to Miami nor to Costa Rica, nowhere to speak trivialities against the Dominican Republic," he said.
The Cardinal feels that many of the foreign priests who have denounced the country in international organisms are "a pile of irresponsibles and charlatans who have never done anything by their home countries."
Regarding the declarations of Haitian children on the part of Catholic priests, the church official stated that formerly the Dominican practice was that any person could declare children when born, from the nurse to a town deputy and the priest, "what is bad is to declare them as Dominican if they are not."
However, he clarified that in the Church there is no an explicit penalty against this practice.
For his part, the Dominican Episcopal Conference general secretary, Ramon Benito Angeles, called on priests to do their missionary work with prudence, and asked them to assume their mission with due wisdom.
Likewise, he stated that the priests cannot be accused of ill intentions, making reference to the Haitian citizens that were dubiously certified as Dominicans.
“They were faced with a sad, harsh, unjust, disordered reality and have tried to do good for these people,” affirmed Angeles.
On one of the morning media talk shows, he acknowledged that irregularities were committed by priests, regarding certifications granted to Haitian minors, to in his view correct unjust situations, but added that in order to do good, priests cannot violate the countries laws.
Priests Pedro Ruquoy and Christopher Hartley, both working with Haitian immigrants, are often subject to criticism by diverse sectors of the nation, whereas a Haitian born prelate, who is currently abroad, was found to have declared dozens of his compatriots as Dominican citizens, in Valverde province some 18 years ago.