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Dominican cardinal attacks leading Jesuit over undocumented Haitians
18 February 2014 13:29 by Isabel de Bertodano

The cardinal in the Dominican Republic (DR) has clashed with the Jesuits in his country, hitting out at a prominent Jesuit priest who defended the right of Haitians born in the Dominican Republic to claim Dominican nationality.

Cardinal Nicolás López Rodríguez, Archbishop of Santo Domingo, has said that a court ruling last year preventing the descendants of Haitians from continuing to claim citizenship must be respected.

Thousands of Haitians cross the border illegally into DR, Haiti’s wealthy neighbour, in search of work.

The cardinal called on the Jesuits to stop supporting Fr Mario Serrano, the executive secretary of the DR bishops' commission on Haitian issues. Until 2012 Fr Serrano was director of the Bonó Centre, which works with impoverished Haitians and is at the forefront of support for the right to citizenship of those born in DR.

Cardinal Lopez was videoed at a Mass in January during which he appeared to lose his temper, calling Fr Serrano a left-wing “reprobate” who must be brought under control.

"I must be respected in this country but this person seems to think he’s the Pope," he shouted. Addressing the Jesuit superior in DR, he added: “Tell him to shut up and that’s it.”

The video appeared on Youtube recently.

Cardinal López is also infuriated that Fr Serrano has publicly stated that women who have been raped should be allowed access to an abortion.