Caribbean Catholic Leaders Makes History

Haiti Bishop, Chibly Langlois and Dominica-born Saint Lucia, Archbishop emeritus of Castries, Monsignor Kelvin Edward Felix
Haiti Bishop, Chibly Langlois and Dominica-born Saint Lucia, Archbishop emeritus of Castries, Monsignor Kelvin Edward Felix, r. have been elevated to cardinals.
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By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Jan. 15, 2014: At 55, he’s become the youngest cardinal in the Catholic Church today, not to mention the very first Haitian to hold such a post. And at age 80, he is the first person from the Antilles Episcopal Conference, which covers the English, French and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, to be made a cardinal.

It is little wonder that many Caribbean nationals are bursting with pride as Pope Francis announced the elevation of Haiti Bishop, Chibly Langlois and Dominica-born Saint Lucia, Archbishop emeritus of Castries, Monsignor Kelvin Edward Felix, to the post of cardinal.

Les Cayes Bishop Langlois is from the Jacmel valley in the Southeast of Haiti and was ordained in September 1991. He moved to the Diocese of Fort Liberte in 2004 and most recently was named Bishop of Les Cayes in 2011. Now the former president of the Haitian Bishops Conference said he is overjoyed at the decision by Pope Francis as he prepares to travel to Rome to be formally installed during a Vatican ceremony on February 22nd.

“This shows the pope has a particular fondness for Haiti and the Haitian church,” he told VOA in Creole from his diocese in Les Cayes, recently.

In St. Lucia, the Kenny Anthony government congratulated Monsignor Felix. “On behalf of the government and people of Saint Lucia, I extend congratulations and warmest good wishes to Cardinal-Elect, His Eminence Monsignor Kelvin Felix, to the Bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference and to the Roman Catholic Church in the Caribbean,” Prime Minister Kenny Anthony said.

Monsignor Felix was born in Roseau, Dominica in February 1933. He was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church on April 8, 1956. In 1962 he left the West Indies for St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, where he attained a Diploma in Adult Education in 1963, gained a Masters Degree from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana in Sociology and Anthropology in 1967 and completed post graduate studies in Sociology at the University of Bradford in Yorkshire, England in 1970. Felix was the Principal of the Roman Catholic High School in Dominica from 1972–1975 and Associate General Secretary of the Caribbean Conference of Churches from 1975–1981.

Felix was ordained Archbishop on October 5, 1981 and served as President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference from 1991–1997 and President of the Caribbean Conference of Churches from 1981–1986. In The Diaspora, the news of the appointments was welcomed by many, including Haitian Ricot Dupuy, who said the promotion especially of Bishop Langlois could be seen as a message to arch conservative Dominican Cardinal Nicholas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, who is a supporter of the DR Constitutional court ruling that makes hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent nation-less and who has had responsibility for the whole island of Hispaniola since July 28, 1991.

“I have no doubt that the elevation of the Haitian bishop is his (Pope Francis’) response to Nobel Laureate for literature, Chilean novelist Mario Vargas Llosa request for the removal of the Dominican Cardinal  and the pope’s expression of his rebuttal of the Dominican cardinal and his reactionary stance,” Dupuy said on social media.

Argentinean-born Pope Francis named 19 cardinals on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014. They include four others from Latin America: his successor to the Diocese of Buenos Aires, Argentian, Mario Poli; the Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, Riccardo Ezzati; the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Orani João Tempesta and the Archbishop of Managua, Nicaragua, Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano. Two heads of European dioceses have been created cardinals along with two from Africa. The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols and the Archbishop of Perugia, Gualtiero Bassetti were named cardinals as wer the  Archbishop of Ouagadougu (Burkina Faso)Philippe Ouèdraogo and the Archbishop of Abidjan (Ivory Coast) Jean Pierre Kutwa. Additionally, Canada’s Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, the  Archbishop of Quebec, was named the only North American to be named a cardinal along with the Archbishop of Seoul (Korea), Andrew Yeom Soo-jung and Filipino’s Orlando Beltran Quevedo, OMI, Archbishop of Cotabato, Mindanao.

Pope  Francis said the cardinals, “coming from 12 countries from every part of the world, represent the deep ecclesial relationship between the Church of Rome and the other Churches throughout the world.”

In a statement Sunday, the Holy See press office added that Pope Francis’ choice of cardinals from Haiti and Burkina Faso “shows concern for people struck by poverty.”