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Archbishop Hubert Constant, OMI: 1931-2011
30/09/2011 Haiti

On the morning of September 23, 2011, Archbishop-emeritus Hubert CONSTANT of Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, died at a hospital in Port-au-Prince. He had entered the hospital on September 10 to be treated for a heart condition and had been released on September 21.

Archbishop Constant was born in 1931 and pronounced his first vows as an Oblate in 1955. He was ordained a priest in 1958. Pope John Paul II called him to shepherd the newly formed diocese of Fort-Liberté in 1991 where he served until his appointment to the archdiocese of Cap- Haïtien in 2003. He retired in 2008.

Before becoming a bishop, he had a wealth of experience as pastor, teacher, administrator and religious leader. After his ordination to the priesthood, he served in parishes in the dioceses of Cap-Haïtien, Les Cayes and Port-au- Prince. He was teacher and later director of the Saint-Eugène de Mazenod minor seminary in Camp-Perrin and then director of the “College Saint-Jean” in Les Cayes (1979-1981). In 1981, he became the first Haitian-born Provincial of the then Vice-Province of Haiti, serving two three-year terms in that capacity. He was subsequently superior of the Oblate scholasticate for four years before his appointment as bishop of Fort-Liberté. From 1999 until 2005, he also served as president of the Haitian Bishops’ Conference.

During the 2004 uprising against the regime of then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Archbishop Constant was the spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops of Haiti in calling for calm and respect for human lives. At that time, he wrote: “It is not the place of the Church to say which actions should be undertaken.” He added: “But something must urgently be done to stop the violence… The bloodshed has already begun.”

The appeal also contained an exhortation to all Haitians: “to respect the life of each human being, the moral integrity of the people, everyone's right to liberty, true information, and the constitutional right to express themselves and demonstrate in a respectful and peaceful manner.”

In November of 2004, he addressed the General Assembly of the Conference of Bishops of France. He told them: “One painful thing that I would like to mention is the condition of so many children reduced to dehumanizing living conditions. Who are they? Street children, children who live as servants, girls and increasingly many younger girls who are used in prostitution circles, children used for the sale of drugs or as objects of shady transactions at the Dominican border. In the midst of this disorder, one wonders where the future of our families is. How will the children, the young people and the adults of today discover tomorrow a sense of duty and responsibility?

“Our heart still bleeds to see these situations of insecurity, impunity, corruption, of excessive exploitation for money and power, and the masquerade of justice continue in our country”