The earthquake has been devastating for a country beset for decades by corruption, kleptocracy, dictatorship and mysticism. It can only be hoped, and no doubt I expect private and government relief to come to this country with a history of being one of the most damned places in the Caribbean. It is ranked 156th by the CIA in per capita GDP, with the average of only US$800 per person per annum, alongside the likes of Cambodia and Chad, and the lowest in the Americas.
If ever there was a country that long needed rule of law,a culture of reason and respect for individual liberty and property rights, and the end of kleptocratic violent government, it would be Haiti.
However, whilst Catholic news services and the Vatican no doubt show true concern about conditions there, even though one questions why a military jet to fly a Bishop from Brazil does anyone any good (except a conscience), it is a shame that the Vatican can't truly be said to be morally consistent about Haiti at all. No, I'm not going to start on the idea that a loving omnipotent God might not strike the most poverty ridden countries with natural disasters like this (that's too obvious).
You see, in 1981 Mother Teresa of Calcutta went to visit Haiti. Not a big deal you might think? Well at the time Haiti was run by a criminal family called the Duvaliers. Papa Doc Duvalier ran the country with an iron fist, all media was controlled by the state and all broadcasting generated a North Korean style personality cult around the Duvalier clan. By 1981 he had been succeeded by his son Jean-Claude (Baby Doc). The Ton Ton Macoute acted as the personal army of the Duvaliers, and would abduct, torture and murder suspected opponents of the regime. Tens of thousands died at the hands of the regime. The Duvalier's meanwhile enriched themselves enormously by creaming off profits from government export monopolies, spending extravagant sums on themselves.
Did Mother Teresa go there to call for freedom, to end abuses of human rights, to call for the Duvaliers to share their ill gotten gains? No.
She received the Legion d'honneur award and praised the Duvaliers for their treatment of the poor. The picture above is of her holding the hand of Michele Duvalier, Baby Doc's wife, who endured the estimated US$3 million wedding not long before Teresa visited. She said of Michele Duvalier that she was "someone who feels, who knows, who wishes to demonstrate her love not only with words but also with concrete and tangible actions . . . the country vibrates with your life work". Vibrates with fear.
Mother Teresa provided open explicit moral support for this gang of thieving murderers. A gang who all up inflicted misery on Haiti for nearly 30 years. It was used as propaganda in Haiti, which has a strongly Catholic population. What more could the Duvaliers have wanted? How disgustingly evil was she in provide succuour to the despicable?
Pope John Paul II by contrast spent only a few hours there in March 1983 and damned the situation in the country.
Yet the Vatican still beatified her. Beatified one who gave warmth to some of Haiti's most evil rulers, who told complete lies about them, and who turned her back on the reality of the country.
No doubt Haitians will warmly welcome any assistance from Catholic charities in the coming days, weeks and months.
However, an appropriate footnote would be to strip Mother Teresa, or rather (her real name) Agnesë Bojaxhiu of her beatification, and to apologise for Haiti for her complicity in supporting the Duvalier regime. There are reports she received funds from the Duvaliers at the time as well. This should be investigated and if found true, it should be spent on providing humanitarian assistance for Haiti.
After all, it is one thing to ignore evil and say nothing, it is another to take a very long trip, to sup with evil, to receive an award, to praise it, to give it credit when it is dripping with the blood of those you purport to care for - and then for your employer to grant you one of its highest honours and respect.
Until then, the Vatican's claim for compassion is deeply darkened by its sympathy for one of its own who did great evil in embracing great evil.