The Vatican has appointed the first Haitian cardinal in history.
A visibly joyous Chibly Langlois, Bishop of Les Cayes, said the nomination on the weekend caught him by surprise.
“This shows the pope has a particular fondness for Haiti and the Haitian church,” he said in Creole from his diocese in Les Cayes, adding that he looks forward to working with the pontiff to further the mission of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis appointed 19 cardinals, his first selection since he became Pope last year, in a move described by observers as a reflection of the pontiff’s desire to establish a council which is more representative of the billions of Roman Catholics worldwide. According to estimates, 80 to 85 percent of Haitians are catholic.
Langlois, who is the youngest of Pope Francis’s appointees, 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.
News of Langlois’ appointment was met with enthusiasm by Haiti’s bishops. Monseigneur Guire Poulard, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince who ordained Langlois told VOA’s Creole service he’s thrilled and extremely proud.
“I think Haitians have been waiting for this a long time,” Monseigneur Poulard said in Creole, adding that the good news arrived on the fourth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the country on January 12, 2010.
Bishop Chibly Langlois will be formally installed during a Vatican ceremony on February 22.
VOA's Creole Service contributed to this report