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Concordats and Vodou: Who controls the Haitian church?

Duvalier claimed that bullets couldn’t touch him. The Church recognised his usefulness (if not his immortality) and gave him a concordat with concessions that let him tighten his grip on Haiti. After his death, the Vatican quietly took back the concordat privileges from the collapsing government of his weak son.

Haitiís first concordat (1860) and Cardinal Antonelliís Reply: Text

The Vatican finally established relations with Haiti through this concordat. It had taken half a century for the Vatican to recognise the world’s first Black republic. Even then, the Pope tried to impose a concordat which would have left Haiti as a mission territory, without dioceses. Haiti finally got the Pope to agree to set up a normal church structure there, but was obliged to subsidise this. The financial details are missing, but a few can be found in other sources. 

Papa Doc's concordat (1966)

This concordat let Dr. François Duvalier (“Papa Doc”) nominate seven key clerics, thus ensuring their personal loyalty to him. It also stipulates that future appointments should be “preferentially to members of the indigenous clergy”. Both these measures helped bring the Haitian church under Papa Doc’s control.

Baby Doc's concordat (1984)

This revokes the privilege granted to the father of Jean-Claude ("Baby Doc") Duvalier of nominating senior clerics. It restores articles 4 and 5 of the country's first concordat (1860) and thereby returns the appointment of archbishops and bishops to the Vatican. On 30 January 1986, a year and a half after this concordat was signed, Baby Doc was forced out. The concordat, however, remains.


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