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%%rimage[Baby Doc's concordat (1984)]=X847_727_HTBabyDocLogo1_t55.jpg 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.

Baby Doc inherited power on his father's death when he was only 19, as "President for Life". He took over his father's state apparatus for political repression, and he largely maintained it during his regime. But while this ensured his ability to terrorise his subjects, the Vatican was able to take back from the young playboy concessions it had granted to his tough, wily father.

In this concordat the Vatican obliged Baby Doc to renounce his father's privilege of patronage, that is, of choosing archbishops and bishops. This brings the agreement into line with the revised Code of Canon Law of 1983. Its rules governing Archbishops are set out in Canons 435-438; Bishops in general, Canons 375-380; Diocesan Bishops, Canons 381-402; and Coadjutor and Auxiliary Bishops, Canons 403-411

When Baby Doc was forced to flee, the Haitians danced in the streets. However, 25 years later he returned to the country. A Haitian court ruled in 2014 that he could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law, and that he could also be held responsible for abuses committed by the army and paramilitary forces under his rule. However, he died that same year, before he could be put on trial.

On 9 March 1983 Pope John Paul II visited Haiti
and got Baby Doc (seen here with his wife)
to promise him a a favourable concordat,
before flying out the same day.

Modifications to the convention of 28.03.1860

Convention between the Holy See and the Republic of Haiti

 [ratified by the act of signing, 8 August 1984]

In the light of the greetings expressed by the Second Vatican Council in the Decree ‘Christus Dominus’ on the bishops’ pastoral mission expressed in Paragraph 20;

And in the light of the decision of his Excellency Jean-Claude Duvalier, President for Life of the Republic of Haiti, taken by his own free will and with the agreement of the Holy See, to relinquish the rights and privileges of those he has been pleased, in accordance with Article 4 of the Concordat of 28th March 1860, to appoint Bishops and Archbishops;

And carrying out the promise made by the Head of the Haitian State to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, on the occasion of his pastoral visit made in Haiti on the 9th March 1983;

And bringing to completion negotiations which were conducted in Port-au-Prince and in the Vatican between representatives of the Holy See, in the persons of His Eminence Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, Secretary of State, His Excellency Monsignor Achille Silvestrini, Secretary of the Council for Public Affairs of the Church and Apostolic Nuncio in Port-au-Prince on the one hand, and, on the other, the Governor of Haiti, His Excellency Jean-Robert Estimé, Minister for Foreign and Religious Affairs, and His Excellency Pierre Pompée, Special Ambassador and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See, it has been agreed upon that Articles 4 and 5 of the said Concordat shall be amended henceforth to read as follows:

Article 4

“The appointment of Archbishops and Bishops, whether diocesan or titular, falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Holy See.

Diocesan Archbishops and Bishops, as well as Coadjutor Bishops with the right to succession, shall be Haitian citizens.

Before appointing an Archbishop or a Diocesan Bishop or a Coadjutor with the right to succession, the Holy See shall communicate confidentially to the Government of Haiti the name of the chosen ecclesiastic with a view to finding out if there exist specific objections or objections of a general political nature with regard to that person.

The Governor of Haiti shall give his reply within a period of thirty days, which in certain cases may be extended to sixty days at the request of that same Governor.  At the expiry of such a period, any silence on the part of the Government shall be interpreted as meaning that there are no objections to the appointment.

It is clearly understood that, should the occasion arise, all consultation shall be conducted with the greatest discretion.”

Article 5

“Any citizens of Haiti in their capacity as Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops, as well as Coadjutor Bishops with the right to succession, before commencing their pastoral mission, shall swear their allegiance to the nation before the Head of State in the following words:

‘I promise and pledge my obedience and allegiance to the Constitution of Haiti for the pursuance of the good of the country and in defence of the Nation’s interests.’

The same oath shall be taken by Vicars General, Parish Curates and Heads of Schools or Religious Institutions before the civil authorities appointed by the Head of State prior to them taking up their offices.”

With a view to ratification of the above, the Representatives of both parties have proceeded to sign this present Protocol, drawn up in French in duplicate original copies, one to be given to the Holy See and the other to the Haitian Government.

National Palace, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 8 August 1984.

For the Holy See
Titular Archbishop of Novaliciana
Secretary of the Council of public affairs of the Church

For the Republic of Haiti
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Religion 



Convention entre le Saint-Siège et la République d'Haïti
(Palais Natiοnal. Port-au-Prince, Haïti, le 8 août 1984) 
Modifica dell'accordo del 28.03.1860
Conventio Inter Apostolicam Sedem et Rem Publicam Haitianam (08.08.1984)
AAS 76 (1984) 953-955

Translated fropm the French original by Dr. David Holohan

* "Jean-Claude Duvalier, former Haitian dictator, dies aged 63", Guardian, 4 October 2014.

"Jean-Claude Duvalier Dies at 63; Ruled Haiti in Father’s Brutal Fashion", New York Times, 4 October 2014.

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