Local July 6, 2016 | 7:58 am

Dominican Republic’s new top Catholic stokes Haitian row

Santo Domingo.- Francisco Ozoria’s appointment as SantoDomingo’s new archbishop has sparked surprise and skepticism as past events revealcontradictions over his role as a defender of immigrants and descendants of Haitians,and radically different positions from those of to his predecessor, the outspoken cardinal Nicolasde Jesus Lopez Rodriguez.

His designation as the country’s top catholic prelate revivesa scandal several years ago regarding the Haitian issue, which Ozoria, asbishop of the San Pedro de Macoris diocese, and practically confronted LopezRodriguez.

At the center of the dispute was British-Spaniard priestChristopher Hartley, whose actions on behalf of the Haitian community as parishpriest of San José de los Llanos, near San Pedro were met with rebuke.

Ozoria had been accused of supporting Hartley’s actions ofconstantly denouncing mistreatment of Haitian immigrants and their descendants.

But copies of original documents quoted by El Nuevo Diario reveala different relationship between Ozoria and, Hartley, which prompted theforeign priest to leave the country.

Ozoria sent a missive to Hartley on September 21, 2006,asking the priest to leave the country, while reproaching him for havingcommitted "very regrettable facts and inadmissible actions inconceivablefor a priest."

"I am really stunned and shocked, because I alwaysbelieved in the depth of your spiritual life. What has happened affects thegood of souls, your ministry is harmful,” Hartley.

In the same letter, Ozoria was implacable with the priest,who said his actions were of grave detriment or perturbing to theecclesiastical communion.

"I also believe, the bishop said, that my trust in youwill never be born again. For all this, I feel obliged to ask you, paternally,for the love of God and the Church, and for your own good, give up your status aspastor and other pastoral charges."

In another document, addressed to the entire diocese of SanPedro de Macoris, Ozoria describes Hartley as arrogant, disloyal and of seekingthe spotlight, which led him to believe that he could to everything and thatthings were useless without him.

"Father Christopher did not leave the diocese because ofthe good he did. We asked him to leave the diocese for the serious crimes whichwe reserve," the bishop said in the document.

Hartley had lodged a series of complaints of allegedmistreatment against Haitians living in the sugar cane plantations around SanPedro de Macoris, which sparked the rebuke by the sugar emporium Vicini Group.

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