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New phase for Catholic Church in the Caribbean with Haiti, St. Lucia cardinals

2014-03-04

The joy was palpable, and the mood as cheerful as the colorful dresses straight from the Caribbean. It's no wonder why. The small islands  stretched out between the Americas mainland have, not one, but two new cardinals.

CARD. CHIBLY LANGLOIS
Bishop of Les Cayes (Haiti)
"It brings good joy for the people, because a long time they would like to have one. It wasn’t possible, so now it’s possible. It’s a joy of all the people in Haiti.” 

Card. Chibly Langlois is now of the youngest cardinals, at 55 years old, and the very first from poverty-stricken Haiti. Likewise, Dominican-born Kevin Felix becomes the first cardinal from St. Lucia, though at 81, he is no longer eligible to take part in conclaves. Not that it matters much to his congregation.

SILVIA CHARLERY
Pilgrim for St. Lucia
"It was awesome. It was just joy beyond compare. We were just elated and overjoyed because we have never had a cardinal before and it was the very first. So we were extremely happy, words cannot express. To God be the glory.”

NICHOLAS LIVERPOOL
Former President, Commonwealth of Dominica 
"One thing I’m hoping he might be able to do is to draw some more Catholics that are not going to church now to come back to the Church. I think that would a good thing, and he’s capable of doing it, he has the ability to do it.” 

For the newest members of the College of Cardinals, their appointment alone will make a difference. The larger, Spanish-speaking islands of the Antilles have always had a voice at the Vatican. But for the first time, both the French-speaking and the English-speaking Catholics will have a say.

CARD. KEVIN FELIX
Archbishop emeritus of Castries
"We’re hardly represented here in Rome so on an occasion like this, it speaks a lot volumes. Because you see that the Pope has not forgotten the small islands. But he has incorporated it into his Church.”

CARD. CHIBLY LANGLOIS
Bishop of Les Cayes (Haiti)
"That means also that they are very close of the Pope, that means also that the Pope opened his eyes on Haiti, on the problem of Haiti, and they are not forgetting.”

The two prelates met for the first time during the Consistory in Rome. But they expect to work closely to tackle common challenges for the Church in the Caribbean.

The vast majority of Haiti's 10-million people describe themselves as Catholic. Meanwhile, the  Catholic population in the Lesser Antilles is just under two million people.


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