THE. Duvalier regime in Haiti has expelled 18 Canadian Jesuits and seized a radio station which the Order maintained in Port-au-Prince. Reports add that the 100-room, five-storey Jesuit retreat house in Port-au-Prince is being converted into a military barracks by the Haitian government.
The expulsions constitute the entire Canadian Jesuit province in Haiti and have robbed Haiti's only major seminary of its preaching staff.
A statement from the Haitian government charged the expelled priests with "anti-government propaganda" and general "subversion". It added that the question of reopening a new seminary would be discussed with the Vatican and Haiti's Catholic bishops.
Fr. Gerard Goulet, who was Superior of the Canadian Jesuit mission in Haiti, said on his arrival in Montreal at the weekend that he was given only vague explanations for the expulsions.
"They made complete nonsense," he said. "Our priests were engaged solely in missionary work. Haiti was desperately short of priests. It is a great blow that the grand seminary at Port-au-Prince should he robbed of its preaching staff in the middle of the academic year."
The Canadian Jesuits had been in Haiti only since 1953. But they had been under fire by the Duvalier regime since early 1960 when a government organ attacked their retreats as political and revolutionary "weekends".
Later, the Duvalier regime expelled Archbishop Poirier of Port-au-Prince without .warning, allowing him to take with him only the clothes on his back, his passport and a dollar given to him by a priest. Shortly afterwards, the government expelled Auxiliary Bishop Augustin, S.M.M., of Port-auPrince. who had administered the Sec following Archbishop Poirier's expulsion.
The regime also ousted four Continued on back page, cot. 2
French priests and closed down the Catholic newspaper La Phalange.
In February 1961, Bishop Robert of Les Gonaives was forced by a government order to leave his See after a government-organised mob broke into his residence and looted it. He was expelled in November 1962.
The fate of nearly 500 other priests and nuns from Canada who are still in Haiti is now in the balance.
The Duvalier regime is notoriously nationalistic and is antagonistic to foreign priests, especially the French and French-Canadians.
Ninety-five per cent of the four million population arc Negroes, and 70 per cent of them arc Catholics. One of the charges levelled against Bishop Robert by the government is that he opposed the voodoo cult! Haiti's standard of living is the lowest in the southern hemisphere.
Fr. Goulet has accused the government of "deliberate programmes of religious suppres: soon."